2 CRITICAL SKILLS FOR PROFESSIONAL WRITERS
Hello everyone. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to my friend Martin Greening. This week we’ve exchanged posts and below is his excellent article.
I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I used to be, when I was a teenager, but as I’ve grown older I have forgotten most of what I learned back then (which isn’t unusual). So when I am trying to learn a new thing, like writing for example, I need to distill it down to its essence. The old K.I.S.S. adage holds very true for me.
My bookshelves are stacked with writing books full of all sorts of information, from writing prompts to character trait lists. I have read or at the very least perused all of them. But the knowledge they contain is vast and can be difficult to get a handle on so I have boiled everything they say down into two critical skills a fledgling writer like myself needs to master:
RELEASE and REVISE.
That’s pretty much it when it comes to writing. Everything else is secondary. The rules of writing I mentioned in this previous post take things a little further, but really, when you’re learning to write you just need to concentrate on these two skills. The others can wait.
So what the heck do Release and Revise mean?
Release is the process of getting words on paper. That’s it. Sounds easy right? For some it is, but for most of us it can be an arduous task. Most people want to be or feel connected to others, but we fear judgement and rejection. These fears poke their heads over our shoulders when we sit down to write and prevent us from getting the words out of our heads and onto the page. We need to find a way to let the thoughts flow from our heads and onto words on the page. How do we do that?
There are as many ideas on how to get words onto the paper as there are writers. Everyone seems to have their own system. The trick is finding what works for you. Some writers get up early each morning and write for a certain period of time or towards a goal of so many words. Other writers try to put themselves into a meditative state before even attempting to put any words on the page. Still other writers start with word clusters for several minutes before transitioning their thought process into actual prose. The methods are endless.
I can tell you what works for me, so far. I get up an hour earlier than I need to and I park myself at my laptop and type until I have reached at least 750 words. Sometimes that takes 10 minutes, many times longer, but I don’t leave that chair until those words are done.
Give it a try. Schedule time to put yourself in the chair to write, do it everyday if you can, give yourself a goal (either time or word count). Soon you will find Release and your words will end up on the page.
Don’t quit writing on a bad day.
– Jerry Cleaver
The Release process:
- Is Emotional
- Should be Non-Judgemental
Revise is the process of taking the jumbled mass of emotion that we released onto the page and forming it into a coherent story. This is also called editing and is a must for professional writing (hopefully I’ve edited all the mistakes out of this article so I’m not a hypocrite). Revise means you need to understand how a story works along with proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need a solid understanding.
The best places to learn how to revise your work are books on the editing process (two I highly recommend are Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain and Revising Fiction by Kirt Hickman) and critique groups (like the Henderson Writer’s Group). You could also have your work edited by a professional editor, but keep in mind editors like to get paid so you may want to start with the books and groups and work your way into professional editors.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be finished.
– Kevin J. Anderson
The Revise process:
- Is Analytical
- Should be Judgemental
So there you have it. Release, get the words on the page, then Revise, mold them into a structured story. If you want to be professional writer, you must master those two skills.
I’m still working on it.
How about you?
Martin Greening recently resumed writing after a long hiatus. He is honing his craft while he puts his information technology expertise to use by helping other writers convert their books into electronic versions. Martin is currently working on several short stories along with his first novel, an epic fantasy. To track his progress and learn how he might be able to help you with your book, please visit MartinGreening.com.