Tonight’s guest blog post, on the art of writing is brought to you by murder mystery & commercial women’s novelist Sue Welfare.
Don’t Get it Right, Get It Written
This is the mantra I have tattooed on the inside my eyelids.
One of the things that I hear time and time again when I talk to would-be writers is, ‘I’d really like to write, but I just don’t know where to start.’ The simple truth and the most useful advice I can give is you can start anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you start just take that leap and get going on your story. You can always and almost always will go back and edit that opening into something more interesting or compelling, or mysterious. So when you start just imagine those first few sentences as the bridge that will take you into your story.
Choose your favourite pen and a lovely notebook or open up a new page on your screen and just write. Don’t edit, don’t look at the red wiggly lines under the misspellings or cross out stuff – just write – anything and everything is just fine, because this is a for-your-eyes-only copy.
No one else will get the chance to judge your poor grammar, your weak sentence structure, your lousy spelling or the fact that your ideas have not come out in any thing like a logical order, nor that you have dropped doughnut jam on a good bit half way down the first page <writer pauses to lick off > And when it comes to making judgements about your writing, at this stage that means YOU too. On this first journey through the first version don’t get in your own way. Switch off that critical inner voice. Tell the voice I told you it was okay, no, really – and just keep on writing.
Editing comes next – and for me is about delivering the clearest most readable version of that thought you had in your head. But unless you have something down on the page you haven’t got anything to deliver – so write – And then when you’ve have enough – be it ten minutes or two minutes or two hours, go back and start the process of shaping what you’ve written into what it is you really want to say. (Some people at this stage like to leave what they’re written to stew for a while, but the typing in my first drafts can sometimes be so bad that if I don’t go back there and then, while the idea is fresh, I can’t always decipher what it is I’ve written, but the time frame is you choice.)
From that great rich mass of thought and words you now have something to work with and cut into shape. You can go back and construct a killer opening and line and delete the sentence that was the bridge onto your idea, take a few goes at it – see which one you like best. You may find cutting the first paragraph, the one that let you get settled and get on track is the answer, just pruning it away, meaning you start with the second one. Maybe you need to reorder the way the paragraphs run or maybe on a second reading you decide you want to spend more time expanding the great idea in the fourth paragraph.
But you wouldn’t have known any of those things until it was down the on the page.
So, don’t get it right, get it written!
Thank you Sue!
Sue Welfare lives and works in West Norfolk in the town where she grew up. She began writing professionally in 1993, selling magazine and newspaper articles, before moving on to full length fiction.
Sue has four sons and shares her life with a very understanding husband and a large custard-coloured mongrel. When not writing Sue can be found making rag rags or handbags, gardening, cooking, reading, taking endless photographs or singing in her local community choir.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
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