Jun 18, 2010
The open door!
Ok, in the last post I talked about writing with the door closed – bliss, painless, no judgement from anyone – not even your inner critique, if you’re very lucky.
With the door closed, your work is not open to an onslaught of the judgment from your critiques. But in the second draft, you are preparing to show your manuscript to whomever will be critiquing it, therefore the second draft needs to be written with the door open.
The magnificent book, “On Writing” by Stephen King, describes writing the first draft with the door closed and the second with the door open brilliantly. If you haven’t read that book I highly recommend you do. In an ideal world it should be compulsory for anyone putting pen to paper or finger to keypad to study that Stephen's book.
Opening that door can be a painful process. Opening the door means that you, the author, are open to criticism. Opening that door means many great lines will be slaughtered by the delete button. Lines that you thought were brilliant in the first draft suddenly wither beneath the scrutiny of the second draft.
And if they don’t disappear with the help of the delete button, you can be sure that they will after you receive some critiquing process.
At the end of the day, if you are serious about being published, then you are going to have to write the second draft with the door open and know that in time you must hand your baby over to the critiques, no matter who they are.
It is said that to write a book one must have determination for the First draft. An eye for detail in the 2nd. True creativity in the 3rd. Ability to distance yourself in the 4th. And last, but by no means least – a bloody thick skin for the 5th.
And that’s if you’re lucky enough to get there in just 5 drafts.
To conclude then – there comes a time one must open the door and just let go.
With a smile
Jun 7, 2010
Stephan King, in his amazing book “On Writing” said that we must write first with the door closed before writing with the door open.
As a writer battling with Dyslexia, I would like to elaborate on that a little more.
For now, I will focus on writing with the door closed and cover writing with the door open in the next post.
What the great King of writing is referring to keeping ones writing clear from the opinion of others when it is not developed enough for even your closest friends to cast an eye upon. Unless you are a very-polished writer - the first drafts are usually little more than a creative scribble of the story outline. Remember - the first drafts are just the seeds of what will eventually be a great novel.
It would be ludicrous to take a friend out into the garden and say, “look at the fantastic seed I’ve sown that will be a magnificent oak tree in a few years,” and yet, without realizing it, that’s exactly what we do with our book if we produce it for the opinions of others during early drafts.
The first draft is for creativity and creativity only. And the first draft is definitely NOT the place for the intellectual left side of the brain to throw in it’s sixpence worth.
This is where I ran into trouble. I allowed the intellectual left side of the brain to edit every word the creative side was trying to relay, as I was writing it. I combed over every line, every paragraph, constantly looking for mistakes. I now realized I did this because of my neurosis over being dyslexic.
Can you imagine the dilemma – the conversation – the craziness of it as right brain and left-brain both tried simultaneously to control of the work at hand?
I was paralyzing my creative flow by being obsessed that there would be mistakes that I would not spot.
This led me to realize that it’s not just other people we need to keep the door shut on while working our first drafts – it’s also our critical mind we needs to be shut out.
How can do we do this?
I now have the following little statement carved on timber and placed where I can see it at all times.
“First Draft: Don’t get it right - Get it written!”
This helps me focus on allowing the creative energy flow and leave the critical intellectual side of the brain until the editing drafts, which is where it belongs.
With a smile