Friday, July 10, 2009

Free-Form Fridays

Welcome to Free-Form Friday! (Henceforth known as FFF.) What is FFF you ask? Well, I have long recognized that I have issues when it comes to writing long (read novel-length) stories. Good friends are capable of cranking out pages at remarkable rates while I struggle to even produce a page or two. I've tried to figure out why, and I believe I have arrived at the reason. I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing. I want every turn of phrase to be just right. If I type something that sounds off I will stop and try to figure out a better way of saying it. Sometimes this leads to re-writing entire paragraphs right then, only to come back and change something else a few lines farther down the page. Many books I've read about writing novels stress the need to get the story down on paper first - just pound out a first draft - and worry about editing later. This thought makes me cringe. I can't image writing 80,000 words of drivel. The urge to edit as I'm writing is so strong. And yet, that's what I think is holding me back.

FFF is my attempt to cure myself of the urge to edit mid-scene. The rules are simple:

1) Write for an hour straight with no editing. I recognize the potential for abuse with this rule. If I take several minutes to think up a sentence and how to best word it I will essentially be editing in my mind before putting it on paper. This defeats the purpose of FFF. Therefore, I institute...

2) Write at least 800 words. I can type approximately 30 words per minute. (Probably more, but this will do.) Given my 60 minute time frame that puts me at 1800 words if I type non-stop. I will obviously need time to think of what to say next, so I figure 800 words is a good compromise. I will need to try this a few times to see how workable this number is. For now, though, 800 is the goal.

3) I am allowed to go over the time frame if I'm "feeling the flow." There are times when I'm writing that the words just seem to flow out. This is especially true when I write dialogue. For some reason, I can hear the conversations in my head and they come out fairly quickly. When I have to stop and describe something, though, I tend to agonize over word choice and I really slow down. Should I get in a groove I will allow myself to continue past the hour limit, but the moment the flow stops, I have to stop.

4) I will post what I have written as is. If it stinks, it stinks. Note that this means that on Friday your reading pleasure may decrease because of the errors natural to a free form first draft. Sorry. I admit that the blog is more for my benefit than yours and I really think I need this. This also means that FFF will not be full stories. In fact, I plan on doing a continuous ongoing story for FFF, so collectively it should be good.

5) I reserve the right to do FFF on other days than Friday. My other stories often take much more than an hour to write. If I find myself running short on time some day then I may audible to FFF.

So those are the rules. Who knows how this will turn out? I certainly don't. I imagine that I'll be very uncomfortable for the first several tries. Hopefully it will get better. My goal is to be fully ready for National Novel Writing Month in November. Never heard of it? Check the link:

Anyway, that's what's in store for Fridays. Wish me luck.

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