Continuous Learning Journey

Writing is such a personal thing. What works for me may or may not work for you. We each have to find the way that works best for us. I know I have talked about his before on this blog but I wanted to update you on my continuous path to find my way.

I’ve read loads of books on how to write a novel and attended many learning sessions. I have tried many of the suggestions I have learned about. In the end, not one was the perfect way for me. That’s not to say I haven’t learnt things, I have. I highly recommend learning all you can about the craft. I have taken bits and pieces from all I have learned and put them together to find my “for now” way, which I am sure will morph into something different again as time goes on.

What seems to work best for me right now is:

• First draft is an information dump. Mostly telling, very little showing. POV problems, holes in plot, scenes, etc. As a Pantser, I need to get the information out of my head, and captured before I forget the good ideas!

• Second draft – go through and add showing, fix POV and other problems, delete scads of words that do not need to be there and find the true beginning of the story. How hard can this be right? WRONG. My brain has never worked this hard in all its long life. But I am more pleased with my story now.

o From the current work I have deleted over 20,000 of the original words. Those words helped me know my story better. Some of them, but not a lot, found their way back into the story but at a different place than I had originally placed them.

• Third draft and beyond. Continue to make the story the strongest it can be, changing things here and there until it is done. There is no number of drafts that says done, no legislated word count. The story is done when it is.

• Then it will be on to editing, etc., and finally to publishing.

The best thing I have done for myself is hire a writing coach. My coach is someone who has written over 40 books and knows a thing or two about the process. *smile*

She is a kind person who points out things in my manuscript and who is there to answer any questions I may have. This is what I needed. Someone to truthfully point out where I have gone astray and supply me with links to/information on things to help me get back on track and make my story one I can be proud of. Not to mention she is there to talk me off the ledge when I need it too!

Our coaching relationship is this:

In the beginning we talked and decided what my goals were. Of course, with my personality this changed a couple of times and we finally ended with a set of goals I’m committed to. I chose really crazy goals/deadlines for myself knowing if I didn’t I would procrastinate and get no where. (Yes she cautioned me on this, as a good coach would, but I didn’t want any wiggle room for me to slack off at the beginning.) Although we are both committed to our Plan of Action, we will also re-evaluate it from time to time.

I report in every Friday. Sometimes there is a part of the story attached for comments (not editing at this point). Sometimes it is just to report a word goal or an update on how my writing week has gone or where I am in the next draft. Usually there is a question or two in there as well. (I asked to be able to report each week so that I would make sure I followed through and met my goals.)

She comments on my emails/writing giving me links and pointers. I spend the next week working on the next draft or two. When we are getting close she will let me know it is time for an editor.

This is currently the best plan of action for me. I am learning a ton of stuff about my writing and my writing process and I have finished a first draft in record time for me. The word finished here is most important – I am an ideas person and getting a beginning, middle, and end of some kind all in one story is a major achievement. I start lots but end few.

To have someone discuss my writing has brought home all that I have learned and forgotten about the craft. I learn best by doing. Using my own work as an example makes the information stick even better.

Stay tuned. I’m sure to comment from time to time on how the process is working for me as we make our way through the Action Plan.

Well I better get back to it, I have goals to meet for this week!

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About Linda Coeur

Women's Fiction Author
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