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Stuck in the obscure rift between writing and editing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Kasper Hviid, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Troubadour

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    After some rough and random writing, my story is now a merry patchwork of temporary and half-finished scenes. Nothing wrong with this as such; but instead of writing ahead, I end up skimming around in a confused limbo. I get distracted by the rest of my story, and can’t settle down and write.

    Do you know of any techniques to get past this specific hurdle? I tried simply starting a new document in another text editor, and writing my new scenes there, and this seemed to work. But is there a better approach?
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The best one is the one that works for you. For myself, what worked on one book doesn't necessarily work on the next one. So I learn all these valuable lessons ... and then have to learn new ones. It'd be great to be able to say this is better than that approach, but every approach works and every approach comes up short for one person or another, at one time or another.

    I'm just trying to be encouraging. <g>

    One thing I've noticed about working in Scrivener, which facilitates writing a separate document for each scene, grouping one or more of these into a chapter, is that I can call up a specific fragment and work on that without ... well, ok, with less ... distraction. I don't know what writing tool you're using, but you might be able to try an adaptation of that.

    I've never done well with the second-draft-is-blank-document approach. But I've heard others say that's the way they always work. Whatever works, works!
     
  3. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Troubadour

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    Regarding writing software, I was using Scrivener not so far back, but I grew increasingly frustrated by the lack of a new Windows version and I felt like I needed a new environment. So now I'm writing in google docs. One thing I really like is that I can instantly change my font. So if I want to try writing in Comic Sans or Blackletter, I can just switch. With Scrivener, I would have to select each paragraph and re-apply the presets. Also, I really like that I can write using my phone. The downside, though, is that I cannot disable the internet when I write. Or, there should be a trick to do exactly that. Don't remember how, though.

    I also tried using an ordinary typewriter. I know this brand me as a hipster (oh my!) but I really like this manual feel of punching the letters into the papers. I also get quite productive when I write on my home-build writing software Authors Passage. But I sort of see those things as a last resort. I'd rather be able to write directly on my draft.

    I think I will try committing myself to only focusing on one, single scene a day. As I sit down to write, I will write a contract with myself of sorts: "Today, I shall write the Silent Night scene a bit further. Words shall befall the paper. Fictive blood shall be spill'd. Ahoy!"
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I tend to just start writing by reading and editing the last scene from the POV I’m writing, then just kind of jump into writing from there. I may not kill two birds with one stone this way, but I at least maim them. I also have “zone” music, that’s my real focus trick.

    Fonts are meaningless during writing until you’re printing the MS or heading for publication. That’s just a distraction and hints you might be easily distracted... along with the need to detach from the net. I’m on a Mac and iPad, but I have no idea how one could go from Scrivener to GDocs... I shudder to think of it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The lack of updates on Windows bugged me too, until I decided to forget about it. The Scrivener I have is the Scrivener I'm using, and what those fruity guys over there have is just irrelevant. The fundamentals of Scrivener is what brought me to the software, and that's what's keeping me there. Moreover, I'm pretty sure the one thing I really want isn't in the Mac version anyway. I want to be able to open multiple documents within the same project and have them appear as separate instances, each in its own window. That way I can hotkey through them. This would let me keep my timeline, character notes, and current scene just a keystroke away rather than clickety-clickety. Hotkeys 4evah!
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  6. Momonkiir

    Momonkiir Acolyte

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    Something that always helps me to just get on with the story was to, during the time I designated for myself to write, take a step back from the story and go indulge in other media. maybe a video game, maybe a movie or some TV, anything where i wasn't forced to read too much and think too hard. Then when i got back to the story, I would read over what I had written to refresh the scene and move on to the next bit. another little thing I did was set a weekly writing plan. so maybe i spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday just writing without looking back. Then on Thursday I'd look over the last few days of work and categorize sections into high - low priority and high - low work loads, and maybe start editing anything with a low work load and high priority. and then Friday would be solely for editing. Using this helped curb my scatterbrained thought process a little bit.
     
  7. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Sage

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    Ok, here's my silly thing that works for me: I change font color for each writing/edit/draft session, and then color code again.

    Anything I'm 100% happy with eventually gets changed to black so I stop over-thinking. Anything I like at 75%, but I think still needs some attention, like editing or continuity, goes blue.

    New ideas? Any color but black or blue.

    How does this all work? My first draft, as in, typing from handwritten notes (and outlines and drafts) gets typed in black. Just, so much transcription. Feels like data entry. Blah. Hate it. But, yay! All that is now digital.

    When it's all typed out from the paper drafts, that's when the color coded typing happens. I'm like you, I write new material and edit and change all at the same time. So, I'll pick a color, add a note that says, "pink=what week or date", and just go back in typing new ideas, moving paragraphs around, etc. If I like it, no change. Stays black. Add anything? New color.

    Then, just save that color-coded version as a "save as" (in Microsoft Word) as WIP v.whatever. That way, I never lose any older version of my file. But, I can visually see and review why I made the changes I did.

    Also, I'll write notes to myself using the highlighter function: I might get a great idea that needs development, or a continuity check, or really move the plot and scenes around and wonder "Wait, WhyTF did I do this?" when I log in a few nights later. Leaving notes to myself from file version to file version saves a lot of confusion lol. Especially because the time slot I can use to write is typically really late and I'm tired.

    It's a happy messy kaleidoscope of colors. But, it helps me focus. If I just want to write new material, I open up the latest file, pick a color that I haven't used yet, and start typing in wherever I want.

    Eventually, I can switch gears and start coding what I've written to blue and eventually to black. Which, is basically a straight-up hardcore editing session. It can be very motivating to click, highlight, and put the text to black. Run out of distinct colors? Guess it's time to go in and edit to free up colors again.

    It might be close to madness, but it's my method lol.
     
  8. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    For me, I use story structure and planning, and that organization helps to keep me writing and moving forward. I find it's easier to keep going when I know where I want to go and how what I'm doing now will get me there. This isn't to say I'm rigid in what I do. Things constantly change, but structure helps me understand how changes will affect the rest of the story. It lets me see what I'm missing. It lets me see the story in my head. Not every last detail. Not even most of it, but rather I can see the big picture of what I'm trying to do in the form of key points in the plot. This allows me to look beyond the little things and not get too caught up in the minutia.

    I used to jump from program to program searching for that perfect tool that would help me write. But for me, it was just a distraction, another reason not to write. I just picked something, Word, and over time, I figured out what I needed, to help me keep me organized. It was several programs that I used in unison, but when Scrivener finally came to Windows, I migrated to it, because it basically merged my set of three to four programs into one. And it does what i need it to even without the updates.

    Now, I use Scrivener along with my ever evolving process of organizing what I've done, what I'm doing, and what I need to do, to keep it all going. I have a broad outline, a detailed outline, an on the fly, inline even more detailed outline, a list of changes I need to make, a list of changes I'm considering, inline notes to myself discussing the various paths the current scene could take, along with key thinks I need to keep in mind and consider as I write out the scene.

    It sounds a bit messy, and it could be, but for me, I simply turn the text that is no longer of significance into annotations in Scrivener. It turns the text red and when exporting and printing out, I can set Scrivener to ignore annotations, so for all intents and purposes those annotations don't exist. And for me, this all just works.
     
  9. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    My way is just hard work I'm afraid, alleviated by the fact that I tend to be working on several projects at once.

    Once I get strongly into the draft generation phase - after the mapping, planning and jotting phase - I simply read, reread and reread, obsessively, until I know the story like the back of my hand. This means if I make a structural or continuity change I'll know instantly what else needs to be amended (or I'll pick it up on the next read through.

    The advantage is that I do enjoy my own work, so it's never a chore, but it does take a long time.

    It's probably no surprise that I almost never reread my novels once they're published.
     
  10. Yora

    Yora Maester

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    I'm actually stuck at the early chapters, constantly wanting to go back and revise my outline.
     
  11. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    So your story is evolving. That's great.
     
  12. Yora

    Yora Maester

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    More on the way to the discarded heap. It usually ends with starting a complete new concept.
     
  13. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    Don't throw anything away - you'd be amazed how often a half developed idea for one project turns into a crucial piece of a different puzzle.

    Also, and I hope I don't sound patronising... a story that evolves until it dies was a story that probably wasn't working in the first place. It shows good judgment to give up early rather than keep plugging away at something that was never going to fly.
     
  14. Yora

    Yora Maester

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    I think it is a really good idea but there's still a lot of holes in the outline I don't know how to fill yet.
     
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