Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chapman on Writing Under the Blade

Jeff Chapman discusses the virtues of writing under a strict deadline at The Midnight Diner blog. Excerpts:
This year I'm taking part in Write1Sub1, an experiment with writing and self-imposed deadlines inspired by Ray Bradbury, who used to write and submit a new story every week. There are two flavors: the weekly for the brave or insane and the monthly for the realistic or wimpy. Participants check in each week or month to report on their progress. I chose the monthly version because I didn't want to fail. Most of my stories stretch to several thousand words, but I'm getting better. So far, I'm keeping up with my commitment. Four months in and I've written four new stories and placed two of them. ...

The deadline gives you no time to bemoan writer's block. If you're stuck, keep writing. If a part of the plot is blocking you, throw it out and try a different path, but above all, keep writing. Producing a large number of stories diminishes the personal stake you have in each one, which makes cutting and rewriting easier. There's always another story to throw your heart into around the corner. You also have less time to be verbose. If you want to finish the story and have some time to reflect and rewrite, you have to stick to the essentials in the first draft.
Read the whole thing. I've found myself thinking about Bradbury's tale of how he learned to write by holing up in a library and (as Chapman mentions) scribbled a tale a week. Some of my musing is probably envy; between two cross-country trips and a bevy of finals for the MBA, both my writing schedule and Circadian rhythms are a wreck. I suppose, though, that's rather the point of Write1Sub1 or the similarly themed 52/25 Challenge (Facebook login required): They make us keep at the craft no matter our circumstances.

(Picture: CC 2008 by Gary Denness; Hat Tips: Chestertonian Rambler, Pseudopod)

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