Let’s do writing tips

5. März 2016 Schreiben lernen


A lot of people on here seem to have trouble with the writey part of writing. The sitting down and getting shit done part. And since I write a lot I’d like to share my tips for getting actual text on paper. This is hardly new, but it works for me, at least. It’s basically turning writing into playing with Lego’s.

So you want to write that text


Step One: Give zero shits
You’re sitting down to write your essay, or your blog post, or the opening of your next epic novel. The fancy business term for what you do first is ‘brainstorm’, but really, you’re just dumping everything from your head onto the page. You write down the ideas of what you want to do: the analogy between Star Wars and greek tragedy, the introduction of your main character, whatever Wikipedia could tell you about amoeba’s. Here’s the important part: the quality of what you put down here doesn’t matter at all. If it’s already in some kind of structure: great! If it’s a seemingly random collection of words: no problem.

Why? If you think, even for a second, that what you write down has to immediately be ok, you’ll very easily get blocked. The idea is to not write the whole text in your head, but to construct it while it’s in front of you. So chill. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Can’t find an opening line? Start in the middle. Write down the bits you already know you want or need. Oedipus complex, single celled organisms, they have red hair and a slingshot. Then expand on that. The introduction and the ending are usually the hardest things to write, and you can totally do those all the way at the end.

Step Two: Embrace technology
Word processing software is the best thing to happen to creativity since we figured out how to paint on cave walls. The freedom you have with copying, pasting, deleting, versioning or using random colours is amazing.

Why? Sometimes inspiration strikes and a fully formed text happens while you spend twenty minutes typing. This is rare AF and you should not wait for this to happen. Most of the time what you get is a bunch of jumbled ideas, sentences, scenes and factoids that you have to wrangle into a coherent text. So play with it like it’s a puzzle. Rearrange the words you put down until they form legible sentences. A paragraph feels weirdly out of place? Highlight that fucker and move it to the end. You can slot it back in later or simply decide that it has no place in your work.

Step three: Edit, edit, edit
This way of working obviously requires a lot of editing. It’s literally 80% of the time you spend on a text. The more you read a text, the easier it becomes to pick out which parts don’t ‘flow’ right. Sometimes you need a little extra sentence somewhere to get over that little snag. Usually you have to cut. The term ‘kill your darlings’ doesn’t really refer to characters. It refers to that sentence you were so damn proud of, that ends up not fitting in the final article at all.

Why: Here is the great thing and the reason why this technique works for me: editing is way, WAY easier than writing. Writing is taking things from your head and putting them in the world. It’s Creating something out of nothing. Editing is reading text and changing bits. It’s Super Important but it’s not that hard, once you get the hang of it. All you’re doing is looking at existing sentences and wondering how they could be better. You’re fitting together Lego’s to form a building. You’re switching paragraphs around. It’s Work, but it’s not something you can’t do.

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