Yesterday I featured and reviewed a book called Snowflake Obsidian, Memoirs of a Cutter, and I hope you will go and read all about it and then pick up a copy. The author has written a fantastic guest post about her writing process and I hope you will enjoy. Thanks Hippie!
Discovering the Story & The Crazy/Beautiful Experience of Writing:
The Hippie’s advice to beginning writers
Remember the old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff”? This is especially true for the process of writing. Can the process be an absolute joy? Yes. Can it also cause sleep deprivation, hair pulling, and feelings of being a complete failure? Absolutely. At some point will it dawn on you that what you’ve written is complete and utter crap? Yes. Is it true? No.
Unless you’re sporting a gigantic ego, at some point you will feel that what you’ve written is garbage. Don’t sweat it. Continue forward focusing on the love you have for your characters and your story. For me, I remember that if something’s not working it can always be rewritten. Writing is a process of discovery, and the first person I write for is always myself, an audience of one.
The best advice I ever received about the process of writing was the idea of multiple drafts. My Creative Writing English professor was the one who introduced me to this concept. Our grade was determined not just by the polished final draft, but also by every rough draft. We had to submit a minimum of eight rough drafts, along with our final that showed significant rewrites in every draft.
The first draft will always be a vomit of words. Some that will work, some that won’t. When a writer gets caught up in a sentence, hemming and hawing over the exact wording, it can inhibit the writer’s ability for discovery and inspiration. When you can’t find the right words, write what comes. You can always fix it later.
I love working with outlines, but often when I write, the story and characters seem to have a mind of their own and will say or do things I never intended. For me, I don’t force the characters to follow the outline. I follow the characters, sometimes not having a clue as to where they’re going as I’m writing. Now obviously this wasn’t the case with my memoir. The characters were limited to doing what had already been done, but how I put the story together, and narrated, was a process of discovery! My advice to writers would be: Don’t inhibit your creativity on the first draft. Always think outside the box.
What happens if you get writers block? Don’t sweat it. When this happens it’s a good indication that you have taken the story in a direction it doesn’t want to go and it is blocking you from moving forward. The best you can do is back up line-by-line, erasing one at a time, or cutting and pasting it to another document, until you get to a point where you see the story going a different direction, and then follow it.
For me, the first draft will always be about discovering the basic elements of the story and it is always going to suck. Really, it will, just accept it. My first drafts are usually for my eyes only. The second draft is where I focus on the heart of the story. Then in later drafts I begin to flush out the characters, dialogue, details, sub-textual imagery, and so on. After that I send it to readers who can think critically about the piece and give me constructive criticism while respecting my writing style. I also want to see if what I’ve written translates to the audience. If not, I need to do what I must to bridge the gap to connect with the reader, even if that means deleting and rewriting elements of the story completely—all the while remembering that there are still opportunities for magic, discovery, and inspiration in every rewrite.
The Hippie is debuting her first novel: Snowflake Obsidian: Memoir of a Cutter. She has written three other unpublished YA novels that she is in the process of rewriting.