Going on a word dietby: Catherine Franz
There are three ways to write a first draft. One is to ink whatever surfaces, in whatever order without regard to grammar, spelling or staying on topic. After the free write, the points, and message extracted for notes or an outline. Time is its adversary and clarity chisels its way forward slowly.
Or start with a plan that minimally includes a purpose, description, chosen structure, word count, objective, points, message, and possibly a mind map or outline. Patience is its adversary and clarity the benefit.
Third, you hold the pen, connect with your higher power, and allow the recording session to begin. You become an aqueduct for a message, usually to humanity or yourself. Dr. Wayne Dwyer, on his PBS show with the same name of his latest book, says, "I connected with God and the book [Power of Intention] seemed to write itself. I didn't know what was going to appear nor did I do any planning." He continues to explain how a very lose but clear outline visually formed right before each writing session. It became clearer while he created an outline. The water just gushed afterwards and he could hardly keep up. Control is its adversary and clarity and enlightenment forms after the writing.
We frequently read that writing requires organization, clarity, focus, and the discipline to write tight. Yet, seldom provided are methods on how to leave out the lard "before" the ink scratches the page--saving editing time. Organization also contributes to lard remove. Some writers believe that organization stifles creativity while others take an opposite viewpoint. There is a compromise -- organization with a twinge of discipline. High productivity, a requirement of freelancers, requires organization.
Here are four strategies on how you can eliminate excess words and increase productivity before they hit the page:
1. Build massive creative steam before starting to write -- see and taste the words before you begin. Robert Fritz, an expert and author on creativity, expands on this process with progressive clarity through each of his three books. Fritz explains how important it is to push the idea, generating creative tension, until the last part of the first stage of creativity. He continues to explain how important it is to carry this first energy through to the second stage, which doesn't carry its own energy.
He also discusses how each of the three stages requires a separate set of skills for writers. And why the two top reasons why writers lose interest or drop projects--lost creative tension and didn't have the skills for the second stage, becomes frustrating, and gives up.
2. Dr. Stephen Covey says, "Begin with the end in mind" when managing time. That same philosophy works just as well for writing projects. First, fully define the project, including purpose and goals, and your reader. "A 150-page personal development self-help book for coaches on..." is an example. Minimally include the word, page, and chapter counts, publishing plans, and description paragraph. Experts at the annual Maui writer's conference, highly recommend writing a 25-word description before you begin the project.
3. Choose a structure that matches your writing style and results desired. Just like articles has six basic writing structures, so does fiction, science fiction, how-to, and other genres. As a new writer, you might want to master one structure at a time.
4. Outline and match to word count desired. The actual way you outline does not matter. Be it a napkin or toilet paper, mind map or clustering, computer or crayon. An outline reduces lard and helps minimize tangents. Write your project description at the top of the page, then, sketch out the outline, keeping in mind the word count and the reader. Next, reduce the number of items or branches to match your defined result.
Getting the lard out of our writing before it indents a page is like getting the lead out to exercise. Both require conscious commitment and continuous dedication. Yet, just like the pounds, both will get lighter.
(c) copyright 2004, Catherine Franz