Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Are You Opened or Closed?

By Julie Wright

Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing that is a dang good source on--well . . . writing. I recommend getting your own copy so you can use it for reference after you finish it from cover to cover. In this book he talked about writing your first draft, and then your second, and all subsequent drafts.

King said the first time you write a book, you should write with the door closed. This is the draft where you pour out your little scribbling heart with anything and everything. In this draft it's okay to be corny and a little over dramatic. With this draft, the important thing is to just get it down on paper (or on computer). The idea of the door being closed is knowing that you're writing it with no one else looking over your shoulder.

The second draft is where you write with the door open. This means that you edit and rewrite, cut and refine--and all this with the idea that the whole world *is* reading the manuscript over your shoulder. This is where you write for publication.

I have to admit, I write with the door wide open every time. I didn’t used to . . . not until I had my second book published. But now, I write knowing that anyone in the world could be looking over my shoulder at any time. I don’t know if this makes me a better writer or a worse one. But what I do know is that the journey of a writer is tough.

It’s hard to get started because you’re so afraid of what others might think. In the beginning, the concept of writing just for me liberated my writer’s soul. I was able to finish whole books because I wasn't doing it to please anyone else. I wrote to please me . . . with my door firmly shut.

So if you’re having trouble jump starting your writing because you’re afraid of what others might think—don’t worry about it—just kick the door closed, settle into a chair, and get it done. No one's looking--I promise.


Heather B. Moore said...

I liked "On Writing" too. I probably write the first draft with the door closed . . . I try to get the story down, then later work on some of the mechanics. Of course the door opens right back up the next week when I take the chapter to critique.

Andi Sherwood said...

I agree with this idea. I am a very left brained person so when I thought about writing a book (before my first one), I never considered just writing it without an outline or anything to go by. Then, my husband gave me a book called "No Plot, No Problem" which walks you through writing a book (50,000 words) in thirty days. The approach taken is to just write. Don't edit, don't worry about anything, just write. Get it all down... Just as Stephen King suggests. When I did this, I was amazed at 1) how it opened up the creative juices; 2) how the characters took control of the story and told me what they were going to do instead of me telling them; 3) how liberating it was. I had never experiences such a creative experience before and I am itching to start my next one.

Josi said...

Loved King's book, and like Julie I used to have my door closed, but now I can't seem to get the thought of other people reading it out of my head. It's been a real pain in the patubus too. I need to work on it and see if I can go back to my old ways.

Sounds like a cool book, Andi, I might just go find that. I could use a spurt of creativity about now

Stephanie said...

I love "No Plot, No Problem". That is how I managed to get past the hang-ups and get my first novel written.