by Peggy Bechko
Writers seem inclined to want to learn. That’s why writers, both newbies and old hands, are always on the lookout for tips to help improve the writing, speed the writing, promote the writing, create compelling characters – pretty much any aspect of writing.
But here’s the problem. There are tons of tips and instruction out there. Some of it is really good, other, not so much. In any event it’s tough to tell which can be chucked and quickly deleted from the brain bank and which is worth keeping. It’s so overwhelming the studious writer can end up simply wasting time…lots and lots of time. And time is where the true value lies for the writer for the amount of time to write for most is limited. Sometimes tucked into neat segments at designated times.
But some things learned are so valuable they’re not to be missed. You’ve learned to fine tune your adjectives. You’ve reduced your adverbs. You’ve brought more emotion to your writing.
Right – all that’s good and writers generally have a mental inventory of writing tools and techniques they regularly employ. Problem is a writer can reach maximum saturation with so many tips and teachings flowing through the brain cells that it throws everything off. It can even cause writer’s block (I’ve never experienced this, thank goodness, but I can see where it could happen).
So what’s to be done? Probably less than one would think. The trick is to codify all that learning into sturdy, straight-forward techniques that work for you (and you is certainly a broad audience – each writer sees things differently).
Think about the many hats of creativity. Walt Disney was said to have claimed to wear many different ‘hats’ when he attended creative meetings. There was the dreamer, the critic and the realist. The dreamer creates, the critic picks things apart and the realist pulls it all back together in a powerful way.
When I break my thinking down that way I can see my ‘dreamer’ comes up with the ideas, extrapolates them and creates, infusing characters with life and the story with energy. I give my dreamer full rein in the beginning. Anything goes.
My critic then does a dandy job of picking at all the lose threads, finding things that don’t work and criticizing sentence structure, story ending and everything else. All the while those tips and teachings I’ve picked up over the years are on alert, watching out for floods of adjectives, verbs that just lay there, repetitive words and a whole host of other details.
Until the end when the critic is told to shut up and the realist within takes over to slap on the last polish, pulling it all back together into the comprehensive story it was meant, from the beginning, to be.
So, the moral is, don’t toss out the tips you come across as a writer, but don’t allow them to swamp you in a sea of bits and pieces either. When a new idea on how to create the perfect story comes along let it join the others in your toolbox and see how it improves your writing. If it doesn’t, let it go. There is not right and wrong way to write the story.
And now – an Update!
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Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. This post originally appeared on her sensationally helpful blog. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page