Writing’s Other Side

First, let me say that I've been writing almost all my life. I dictated my first story to my mom when I was eight, and I've written (at least) sporadically since. 

During my engineering career, I had several opportunities to write, and these had some long-lasting effects. One day my boss called me in, said, "Bob, I want you to write a nasty letter for me." He wanted to severely chastise someone, but he wanted said chastisement to be reasoned and void of any anger that might deflate his argument's position. I did.

Some years later, I took on the job of collating a hodge-podge of design memos, some of which conflicted with others, many of which seemed capricious, arbitrary. After a year's work, we had design guidance we could all believe in.

Success in that task led to my being assigned to write new specifications for construction work, and to re-write others that had been shot through with holes lawyers could crawl through to extract more money from us. My efforts here (or so I was told later) saved us many millions of dollars. Hence the power of well-reasoned words.

And recently I've been a partner in re-organizing a writer's group. My former technical experiences helped me assist the writer group's board of governors in re-writing its by-laws and other necessary documents.

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Okay, so now you're saying, "So what? Is this relevant to creative writing?" I think so.

To paraphrase an old adage, "Creative writing is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration." 

From my perspective this means that while the creative surge makes one feel good inside – endorphins flowing, and all that – the preponderance of successful creative writing is in the editing. And editing is more of a reasoned process, one that helps the creative process in a number of ways, including:

  • adding flow to the story
  • ensuring that the characters are consistent
  • orchestrating the tension/release emotional aspects of story
  • creating sentence structures that amplify the above
  • removing "flab" from your prose
  • choosing powerful nouns and verbs
  • taking supposed reader responses into effect.

Granted, some gifted writers are more or less able to merge the creative and editing processes. This is, of course, the ultimate skill in creative writing. But as you grow as a writer, don't be afraid to take on what seem the more ho-hum tasks of writing. They're all-too useful in mastering the editing aspects of writing.

My advice, then: take on any writing experience you can. It'll help you articulate the creative ideas you commit to paper and, quite possibly, shorten your apprenticeship as a novelist, short story writer, memoirist, or poet. 

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