Tip #4 - Write bad

One of the most difficult challenges writers face is finishing a story and much of the time it’s a result of nitpicking their own work long before the editing process. The basic idea behind writing bad is to avoid editing anything, let it sound like garbage and have poor grammar. That is all fine and dandy, what the writer should be looking for initially is a finished draft, not a good finished draft.

The best method to use in approaching the problem is to label every draft set to mean something. It’ll accomplish two things effectively:

1.       It’ll allow smaller tasks to bring a sense of accomplishment as they are dealt with.

2.       They’ll allow the writer to finish writing in steps leading to the finished product.

So then the question becomes how to break the drafts up? How to label things related to writing?

Well, as many successful writers have stated in the past, separate the creator and the editor, sometimes referred to as the child (the creator which makes messes) and the adult (the editor that cleans up the mess).

None of the Drafts count as an individual draft although they could be, they could also be sets in which once finished go repeated again from beginning to end and still count as part of the same draft set.

Draft 1: The Mess

The first set of drafts becomes the child’s job in this case. Free spirited and willing to get weird with the ideas they have ready. No fixing, no editing. All the child does is explore the world through the text and puts all the ideas down. They don’t have to make any coherent sense, don’t think they do. Sometimes writing is easier if there are just a bunch of bullet points of loosely related events, characters and ideas and it helps to shuffle them around and try to connect them end to end. That to the untrained eye would seem like gibberish but it’s the order the writer has manifested by more or less understanding their own thoughts. In this set the writer has to attempt to get down every story detail they want and the more excessive the better. Fill the manuscript up with all the trash wanted.

Draft 2: Continuity

As the child reaches a complete story with all the events in it, all the scenes and characters they want involved, it becomes time to order the smaller detail for the adult to have continuity while they work. This means to put all the information in the right order from beginning to end, how the child planned the story to be told. Make sure things don’t vanish between scenes or suddenly appear between scenes. This draft is about awareness of the material. Things must be consistent throughout the story for when the child shares it with the adult.

Draft 3: Poetry

Once continuity has been established, it is time for the child to step aside and let the adult asses and begin to establish the poetry of the story. This stage is about making metaphors and assuring the story is being shown instead of told. The adult turns all relevant information into descriptive metaphors to convey emotion and sensation most accurately to the reader attempting to find the least amount of words which provides the most vivid sensory output. (See Tip #2: Show Vs Tell for more information on this step)

Draft 4: Lyricism

The poetry is done, order was maintained and the mess is essentially cleaned up now. Initiate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Protocol and nitpick every word in the entire manuscript. Question whether or not each word belongs and assure it ultimately moves the work forward by either revealing character details or describing action in a scene. Any word which doesn’t belong has to go. (See Tip 1: Write Only What Has Purpose for more information on this step).

Draft 5: Grammar Nazi

The grammar draft is to make sure the rules of language are being followed properly and that they are well understood if being broken. This includes deciding what periods make the most sense or have the most impact or when two sentences are better off as one. These are the mind numbing details writers get stuck on when they’re writing, but if the writing is already finished, this part is only punctuation. Cleaning the remaining garbage, sweeping up and wiping down. After this is the finished product so being a Grammar Nazi is polish work.

Draft 6: Finished Product

The final draft of the work is only possible after all the work is finished. This is the part where the writer shows the work to an audience for feedback. This is where they’ll be told of the details which make no sense to the reader, what information was boring or irrelevant, what could be done without and what should be included. It’s all about the reader at this point. The writer needs to listen to every word every reader says. They need to, on the other hand, take each comment with a grain of salt and must debate with themselves what they agree and disagree with, then implement the parts they want. Don’t defend the work, but don’t allow every attack to hurt the work either. This is a sensitive spot because the work is how it was intended, now it must be maintained how intended while expressing it successfully to the reader and keeping their attention at the same time. This is the only hard part because it is where the writer will see their weakest points, the ones which were invisible before someone else brought it to the light. It’ll feel like judgement, although it is not.

Once all these steps are complete the manuscript should, in theory, be ready for publication. This is no more than one of the methods I use to get through a manuscript, there is an infinite number of ways to accomplish these same things. If the struggle is keeping the different activities writing includes apart labeling them is the way to go. Make sure they are seen and understood as different events and the mind will avoid crossing them. Hopefully.