How Do I Finish a Piece?

by jeanineoloughlin

Thinking Through My Fingers

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Issac Asimov

Once I have an outline to keep me moving in the right direction my next challenge and probably the biggest one for me is getting it all on paper. I’ve tried several methods and I think it’s different for every writer. The important thing is to find what works for you and stick to that. It doesn’t matter how you do it but that you do it that’s important.

My method is what I like to call, “Butt in chair” and “Word vomit.” It doesn’t sound very pretty but here’s how it works. I give myself a timeframe, say an hour a day, in which I am sitting at my computer, tablet or whatever writing instrument I feel like using that day, for an hour. During that hour I turn everything else off (except music) and write.

As a minor aside, I have edititus. I cannot stop editing my own work. While I’m writing I will keep editing and editing and editing the same 100 words and never make any progress. This is my bane as a writer. It is a bad habit, and has been the death of so many pieces of work that I could fill a bookcase with them. My solution is “word vomit.”

Word vomit is writing without stopping. I’m not allowed to go back and read, edit, or spell check until my hour is up. The only thing I’m allowed to reference is my outline to make sure the vomit is at least heading in a general direction I want it to, kinda Linda Blair like. If I can’t remember a name, or I’m taking too long to come up with a name etc. I put placeholder information. For example if I can’t remember the name of the school I’m writing about I will write in the piece to keep my writing. Once I stop my mind and eyes will wander around the document and that’s when I fall down the rabbit hole.

Once a piece is complete I have what I call my “crap draft.” I usually put this draft through two or three readings of my own to work out all the story kinks, inconsistencies, and glaring grammar/spelling issues. Once that’s complete I have my “first draft.” Which we’ll talk more about in a later post.

So, find what works best for you to just get that piece on paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s the great american novel the first time through or if it’s just a crap draft. Completing the piece is half the battle.


Happy Writing!

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