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What was your last writing eureka moment?

I enjoyed the GSHW meeting at East Brunswick library earlier this month. Our guest speaker, Will Horner (editor of Fantasist Enterprises), gave a talk called Two Major Pitfalls in the Revision Process.

He shared plenty of good advice (if you're a GSHW member, you'll be able to hear it all on a podcast at the group's website soon), but his thoughts on writing the first draft had the most impact on me.
Will recommends writing a clean first draft (ie: free from spelling and grammar mistakes etc.). I try to do that, even though I know I'll be coming back to edit more carefully, but do I tend to let myself get distracted during the initial draft, which can really throw me off my stride. For example, if I have a character hiding a small gun on his person, I tend to stop writing and search the web for pictures and details of small guns which would do the job.  

Will also suggested that, rather than allow ourselves to get caught up on  minute details which require further research, we should just make a note on the page to research it during the next run through.

I've no doubt I've read or heard that same advice before, but, for me at least, once is rarely enough. I think it's because our brains are wired to ignore things which aren't relevant (or at least, we don’t realize are relevant) to us at that particular moment. I've lost count of the number of times I've re-read a book on writing and found a great piece of advice which I hadn't noticed before (I like to tell people books on writing contain secret information, which only reveals itself on subsequent readings).

It’s why I feel strongly that writers need to continually read books on the craft and take part in workshops, critique groups etc, to improve their work.

Will's wisdomous words struck a chord with me that day. It's moments like that which make going to cons and writers' meetings worthwhile as well as fun. 

How about you?

What was your last writing epiffeny epiphanee... eureka moment? 

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Discovering I outline best by writing small paragraphs that describe scenes, and worrying about stacking them in order later...LOL.

I'm kind of the opposite on writing books, etc. They distract me and keep me from writing. I will escape into research and study rather than write, so I tend to be careful about things that I have found in the past to interfere.

That was a good point he made about research...as I did my mad Nanowrimo this month, I did a ton of research beforehand. There are areas I know I will come back to and add depth. I've been making a list. But I couldn't do this and work on my draft, because I would be getting lost. I love research. It's amazing how far I am willing to go to make sure that detail is correct, even if none of my readers catch it (like the almost 2 days I spent researching which of several methods of possible fire starting techniques were in use in 16th century Japan.)

But again, it can be a trap to keep me from writing.

Not to say that I won't read and study and learn about writing - it's just that I have to put it in its place, and actually do.

Perhaps, that's a Eureka moment itself, to identify things that keep us from doing our craft, and put them in their useful place (it's never an either/or, usually more a case of quantity).

Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
Perhaps, that's a Eureka moment itself, to identify things that keep us from doing our craft, and put them in their useful place

That makes sense to me.

Thanks for sharing :)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've been mulling and working the question,
"What must I do to allow myself to write a quarter million words a year?"
Or it might be better phrases,
"How shall I order the details of life to allow myself to do the only thing that truly pleases me."
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
I've been working on that one...with some results. I don't know if I'm up to a quarter of a million words a year...over a hundred thousand, though.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
The Oxford English Dictionary can suck me in for days.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
Windows Solitaire has the same effect on me :)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
I hear that one.

And anything on social history or mythology, just write me off for several days.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
That it doesn't have to be perfect the first time round. That it is okay to let go, have fun, and fix it later.

Once I realized that, the next step was actually letting myself do it.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
That it is okay to let go, have fun, and fix it later.

Fun? Fun? I thought we were supposed to be all about the angst ;)

Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
Lulu was pretty significant.
For a very small amount of money,
anyone can make their book available throughout the US and Europe.
I still have to work out a retail distribution system,
but that's also possible.

But as for writing, google is the biggest epiphany since MSWord...

In the days when one had to walk to the library and riffle index cards,
Write first, answer questions later;
was carved in stone.

But now?
My story, "I Shoot for Ice Cream" resulted from the question,
"Is there a revolver with a safety catch?"
I found several, one of which was Archer's gun in The Maltese Falcon
which provided the premise for another story.

OTOH, there are times when you have to accept the fact that
you will probably never know if there was a toilet
on the DeHaviland Albatross, and just write around it.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
...you will probably never know if there was a toilet
on the DeHaviland Albatross

I heard they just used to open a window ;)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
While it seems unimportant,
it is something a person who flew on one
would remember...

Obviously, there is more than God in the details...
Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
When I was told that editing is a skill just like any other and takes time and patience to hone.

By the way, how was Philcon?
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
PhilCon was excellent, thanks. It's a shame you couldn't make it. Maybe next year?
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
Hopefully! I live really close to it. But this year I didn't want to pass up getting to meet bogwitch, since I'd met you previously.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with him on the small details thing. My MC needs to drive an Audi (well any luxury car but i thought BMW/MB are overused and anything more expensive is over the top) and I dont know anything about them except that I cant afford one. So I just wrote it in, inserted a comment and moved on.

For me, i think my eureka moment came when I realized, with the help of a fellow writer, in September that my first draft for the novel does not need to be and will not be perfect and in fact, i should view it as an outline or a springboard, that the first draft is where i will work out my characters' traits, flaws, motivations etc., that I will experience diversions, that I will discover things I hadnt meant to write, that certain things i had meant to write will not work out and all of that is OK.

It's funny because I do not have the same problem with short stories but i think because there's so much more time and energy invested in a novel I was hesitant about writing a flawed first draft.

On a side note, sorry i missed you at Philcon :/ I had so many friends go and I was disappointed to miss everyone. Like I said, next year I will be there.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
Like I said, next year I will be there.

That's good to hear. Somebody needs to keep an eye on babarnett or she'll cause even more trouble ;)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
I think it worth keeping in mind, that sometimes when you first hear advice, you might not be ready to understand how to take advantage of the advice. Which is why your point of sometimes needing to hear the same advice more than once is key. If you don't yet have the context for the advice, hearing it might not do you much good. But then with experience and time, you go back and learn again either from old sources or new, and you might get more from the advice.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
That's certainly the case for me.
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
For me, it was when I had decided to write some Stuart Little fanfic; I realized that with the book having been written (and presumably set) in 1945, it would be possible for Stuart, in his search for Margolo, to run into another wanderer. Rather random as these things go, but hey, you asked :)
Nov. 22nd, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Lol, I think euraka moments are random :)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 23rd, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
Lol, mine too :)
Nov. 23rd, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
What was your last writing epiffeny epiphanee... eureka moment


I'll be back later with one of those moments if I come up with one, but you got me laughing, so I thought I'd lol here.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
And I'm glad you did :)
Nov. 24th, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)
I think it was about a month ago. I was brain storming for one novel in a series, and while filling in the background material, realized there was another novel in the background.
Nov. 25th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Now that's my kind of eureka moment :)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 26th, 2010 09:07 am (UTC)
Re: I made up the green part
Lol, that proves it, then :)
Nov. 27th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! Glad I'm not the only person who get's distracted like that. I'm also inclined to wander off in search of small guns when I'm writing a first draft ;O)
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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