Stages of Writing: Freestyle Writing vs. Rewriting vs. Editing

Writing-StagesThe first thing to learn in the writing journey is that not all writing is the same. There are several types or stages of writing, and each of them requires a certain mindset and set of skills to accomplish them. And just because you’re good at one type of writing, doesn’t make you good at the other types, and making the transitions to each can be difficult to accomplish or there might be difficulty in determining when to make the transition.

Freestyle Writing
This is the kind of writing most people assume writers do (but in reality it’s just the first step in a larger process). It’s the fun stuff. The part were you let everything just explode out of your head and onto the page. It’s an everything goes kind of thing where no idea is a bad idea and anything can happen. It can be a most uplifting experience, especially if you’ve done a lot of thinking about the story before ever placing pen to paper. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. It’s where that thing called a writer’s high happens, and it’s a great place to be!

This writing stage doesn’t require a whole lot of special knowledge. Just an idea of what makes a good story, what makes compelling characters, and how to write a beginning, middle and end of a story. Much of this can be learned simply by being an avid reader, or taking some writing workshops on story structure and character development.

Rewriting
Continue reading “Stages of Writing: Freestyle Writing vs. Rewriting vs. Editing”

Reblog: Overcoming the Re-Write Rut

I stumbled across this post on re-writing and couldn’t help but share. This post pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing for the last few months. Enjoy!

Overcoming The Re-Write Rut (via http://www.sarenastraus.com)

Well, it sure is cold here in the North East, but I haven’t been hibernating. I’ve been re-writing my young adult novel. As a mom, full-time attorney and writer, something has to give and if I need to write, it usually has to be other writing…

Continue reading “Reblog: Overcoming the Re-Write Rut”

Beginning Writers: What You Should Know

You’ve decided that you have a love of writing and would like to pursue it further whether it be as a hobby or a career, but you just don’t know where to start. As someone who has “been there and done that”, I can sympathize with your predicament, so decided to compile some basic information that will help on your journey to discovering the imagination inside.


Take it slow
The very first thing you need to remember is to take it slow. Don’t become too overwhelmed by all the possibilities, story ideas, or writing information. I know it’s easier said than done, but the last thing you want to do is to become so bogged down that you just don’t write at all. Also, a lot of pressure can have a negative effect your creativity, so try to keep it positive and fun!

Get the story out of your head
If you have a great story idea then don’t let it disappear in the chaos of your head, get it down on paper! Even just a few short sentences to get the gist of what you want is fine. You can always go back and write it out later.

Keep a journal or notebook
Where do you put all those story ideas? If you haven’t already, then you need to keep a journal or notebook. It can be a paper notebook or files on a computer. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you put it somewhere you remember, so it won’t get lost and it’s easily accessible.

Just write
If you feel the urge to write then do it, even if it’s for a few minutes. In fact, writing EVERYDAY is the best way to go. It keeps you in the habit of writing and the more you write the better you will get at it. So just let your thoughts pour onto the page (even if it doesn’t make sense). You have to get the junk out of your head before the real gold nuggets can be found.

Read
Reading is very important. It can inspire new ideas for stories, but it can also teach you how to write. The best way to learn the craft is to study what other writers have done. So read and read often. Read about how to be a better writer, read the area you want to write in, read areas that interest you, read things that don’t interest you (even areas that may not interest you still have great writing, the point is to be open to new ideas no matter where they might come from). Reading a variety of books, magazines, blogs and more will give you a bigger toolbox to pull from and will widen your reading experience. That being said, keep in mind if you read bad writing then you will produce bad writing. Reading a badly formed novel or story every once in a while isn’t going to kill your writing abilities, in fact, it will show you what NOT to do. Just don’t steep yourself in it.

Rewrite
Another way to be a good writer is to practice, but more important that that is to rewrite pieces you’ve worked on. Don’t just write it and put it away. Keep writing and rewriting until you find something you like then put it away and come back to it a few weeks later. This will allow you to learn to rework a piece until it becomes better and also it will eventually help you find your voice. Voice is the unique tone in a story that makes it special and stand out. This only comes with lots and lots and lots of practice. It also usually comes when you least expect it. Read my blog on Finding Your Writing Style and Voice for more information on Voice.

Get Feedback
Getting feedback on writing is essential to any writer, but most especially in the beginning. It is how you will find out what areas of your writing need work and what areas you excel at. It is important though that you don’t rely on just anyone to give you that feedback. The best kind usually comes from fellow writers, but not always. I have read critiques from writers that were not very helpful at all. They key is to look for someone who can give you constructive criticism that helps and doesn’t tear you down.

Join a Writing Group
This is the best way to find fellow writers whether you join a local writing group or find one online. It is important to be surrounded by people who think the same way you do. The will be instrumental in providing the support you need and will also be there to give you the feedback to make your work better. I found my writing group through www.meetup.com. Check them out and see if there is a writer’s group near you!

Discover your weakness and strengths
When you first start out writing, you might feel like you have no strengths and all weaknesses. Believe it or not, this isn’t true. We all have areas that we are better at than others, even in the beginning. Yes, all of your writing will probably need help at some point in time, but there will be some things that you are naturally better at, and some you will need lots and lots of help to get right. What I do, even now, is to I pick an area I feel I need the most help with and focus on that area only. Once I feel like my skills have improved enough, I go to the next area I want to work on, and so on. This keeps me from being too overwhelmed with what I don’t know and helps give me goals to shoot for. It’s also a lot easier to see progress if you focus on one area instead of jumping all over the place.

Have Goals
If you want to be a good writer than you need to set goals for yourself. This will keep you motivated to write and will keep it interesting. Set some short term and long term goals of what you want to accomplish in your writing and it will keep you moving forward. Also realize that life happens and that sometimes you’ll have to adjust those goals every once in a while.

Good luck with your writing experience and feel free to post comments with any questions you might have!

How to Write Nonfiction

You have found a topic you want to write on, but aren’t quite sure how to proceed next. You probably already know that nonfiction writing is essentially the organization of facts into a complete piece that presents those facts to a reader. But how can you do it so that it makes sense and is something that’s interesting to read?  Here are five steps to get those facts from head to page, and dazzle the reader with your repository of knowledge.

1. Decide on the Type of Piece
Know beforehand what type of piece you are writing so that you know the length to complete. Are you writing an article, a blog series or a book?  You don’t want to end up writing more than you need or not having enough material to finish your project; though, sometimes after you start a project your accumulated information may go beyond expectations or fall short, then you will have to reconsider what the end product should to be. A piece you might have originally decided would go best in a blog series might actually work better as an article and vice versa. You may even discover that there is so much to tell about a specific topic that it could fill a book.
2. Outline
Organization is elemental to writing good nonfiction. You cannot have good comprehensive nonfiction without it, so get those thoughts in order. You can do this on paper or even in your head, as long as it is clear that you know what you are going to do and where you are going to go. Decide the best possible way to reveal the information to get your point across.
3. Research
After you’ve decided how to present your piece, then you need to decide if it requires information you don’t have. Sometimes when you sit down to write on a topic, your knowledge may have gaps that need to be filled. This is when research is paramount to make sure that your facts are straight and that you know what you are talking about. There’s nothing worse than a reader pointing out that your facts are wrong.
4. Write the Piece
Now that you have an idea of what you want to do, an outline to work from, and all your facts lined up in a row, it’s time to write your piece of nonfiction. This part can be a little challenging because knowing about something and writing about it, in a way that grabs a reader’s interest, are two completely different things.
This is when you should give your story a voice. What do I mean by voice? I mean it needs a unique tone, something that sets it apart from the pack. But mostly it just needs to be interesting to read. If you let passion flow through your words as you write, chances are it’s going to stand up to sing loud and clear for all to hear.
5. Review and Rewrite
This is the most tedious part of writing, but also one of the most important. Don’t forget to review and do as many rewrites as necessary to get your work to its sparkling finish. Find those typos and make sure you have a piece that is strong. Get someone else to do a read-through if you are uncertain. You never know who might be reading your work, so put your best foot forward and make your reader more intelligent for reading what you write. They’ll appreciate it and may even come back for more.
This information is also posted on www.associatedcontent.com as a non-exclusive article.

Have you wondered if nonfiction contains plot? Then check out my blog post Does Nonfiction Have Plot to find out.