Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beginning to Write

(Reposted from 11/26/07)

KL and I have different approaches to writing a scene, a fact which becomes most apparent when we write together. KL likes to dive in head-first and plunge into her writing. I generally have to mull over all my ideas before getting anything down on the page. Our writing sessions usually consist of KL saying, “That sounds good to me”, and me saying, “Perhaps we should think about it some more before we move on.”

Personally, I think KL’s got it right. (Though, I will say some forethought is required.)

One of the most important things about being a writer is to remember that you actually have to write. I used to scoff in disbelief when I read in books on writing by famous authors that a true writer should set aside a small portion of every day and simply practice writing. I laugh now because it’s true. Writing is not just some magical skill that’s borne from a good imagination and a spark of inspiration (though those usually help). As with everything, learning how to write well requires mostly hard work.

Having said that, where does one start?

A blank page can be really intimidating.

I’m both a perfectionist and a writer, and while it may seem like the former should help the latter, being too much of a perfectionist is just debilitating to the writing process. I think too much, which isn’t always helpful. And, in those cases, I always find myself returning to my 2007 New Years’ resolution of “Write first, revise later.”

You can’t really make a scene better if it doesn’t exist in the first place.

I think some of the hardest scenes I’ve had to deal with when writing SFA were scenes involving Rai Ravin. My conception of Rai Ravin was of this really charming guy character—the kind of boy in high school that all the girls swooned over and that all the guys were friends with. My problem when writing Rai Ravin was trying to figure out how to channel his character because I found him a little intimidating to write for. I used to complain to KL that Charming Male Rai Ravin would be really difficult to capture, seeing as how I was neither charming nor male.

But, really, it’s not good to be intimidated by characters that exist only in your head, and writing Rai Ravin really just boiled down to hammering the scenes out, no matter how badly the first time around, to see how things would play out.

Rough drafts are supposed to be just that—rough. And, hopefully, drafts get better.

So, eventually, Rai Ravin became a much more tangible and real character to me, someone that was much easier to write about. But, it really did take getting over the initial worry and distress of getting it perfectly the first time to get to that point.

Of course knowing this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m cured of my perfectionist streak, but I do try my best to follow my own good advice every now and then.

Thanks for reading,


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