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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Your Best Writing: Always Intend It

A purple skinned alien writing in a chair-sitting position.
Credit: PDClipart.org



This past Saturday I watched one of Harlan Ellison’s videos on his YouTube channel. It’s really inspiring, so I suggest you take a look at it. As always, he has a lot of interesting things to say, including about how his birthday falls on the same day as actor Christopher Lee’s, his Warholian Daffy Duck tee shirt (I have a Batman Warholian one), and authors intending their best work when they write. This last one really inspired me because he talks about how writers will take on jobs they don’t like but will perform their best work anyway.

During my entire writing career, I’ve never hated any of my writing jobs (so far at least) even if I didn’t prefer them to other projects. I like to write in general, and so even if I’m not writing fiction, my favourite form, I still love the very act of composing words no matter what the project is. Because of that, I’ll intend to do my best work. I’ll do this at all levels of the writing process, even the rough (or first) draft level. That doesn’t mean I revise as I write. In no way! And this is especially so with fiction. To revise as I’m writing the rough draft would cut off the stream of creativity and, ironically, instead of doing my best work I would be doing my worst in a certain sense. Articles about NaNoWriMo warn against revising while writing the rough draft. One of these articles in particularly is from Writers’ Digest’s website. which can be very useful for those who are participating in NaNoWriMo as well as ones who aren’t but like to write.

So then, how do you intend your best work at the rough draft level without revising? Well, intending your best work is exactly that. As you write the rough draft you intend and so mean to do your best work; you don’t write the final product at that stage. During that stage, you don’t go back to correct a mis-spelled word, or to see if you put a period at the end of that last sentence while you’re in the middle of writing the current one. You write to the best of your ability in the present moment of the act of writing itself. Doing so may cause less need for revising later, even though you will still have to revise, perhaps through several rounds. Also, intending your best while you write non-stop will probably bring out your true voice in your work rather than too generic a voice.

Stephen King in his book “On Writing” does say there can be a few exceptions to non-stop writing, at least when writing fiction. Some of these may be if you forget your main character’s name or if you know moving on to the next scene is going to cause a major contradiction in the story and throw it too far off course. But overall, during the first draft you should write non-stop, getting out the story that comes to mind yet intending to write your best story. Because if it turns out to be your best story for being a rough draft then just think how much better it will be when you go on to revise it!

Oh, how did Quantum Con go? It went by great, especially for being its first time! And with the great feedback the con committee received from attendees, I’m sure they intended their best! You can find out more about how it went in the review that I wrote for it at Examiner.com. 

Until next time . . . 

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