November 22nd, 2010

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?