Monday, September 15, 2014


Most of the discussions in this eFile have focused on the techniques of writing, so let's break away for a bit to discuss taking a story from within the wrinkles of your brain and putting it out for all the world to enjoy. That only happens when you apply your bottom to the seat of a chair and write, or as Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia, coined, “BIC” for “butt in chair.”

A story starts with an idea, formulating a goal, writing a synopsis, create some form of an outline to achieve the goal, and then applying the who did what, when, where, how, and why. Now, comes BIC time. Don't be concerned about applying all the techniques, just get the story out and visible. Don't stop to correct sentence structure, or even spelling, or do anything that will get in the way of the story. Just hammer the keyboard or wear down a pencil. Only when you reach what you think is the conclusion do you go back and start the first edit correcting and adding those things necessary to making it readable and believable.

When taking law classes years ago I was introduced to the “law ruled legal pad,” the best
thing since cake icing. The little, narrow column on the left side of the popular legal pad is replaced by a three-inch-wide column.

Taking lecture notes in outline form in the main body, this wide area on the left allowed for comments. Applying that to writing, the story outline or even the story itself is in the main section with notes, references, reminders, concerns, whatever in the left. Of course, with rare exceptions, our stories are done with a word processor. So? Whether using LibreOffice, Microsoft Word or some other word processor with the capability there is the opportunity to add important information in the margin.

The most important thing is to get the story out into the light. Some authors are very fanatic about saying that you must set a specific time, length, or number of words to write. The fact is that doesn't always work. There will be interruptions, but with planning, such annoyances can be minimized. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. For example, I rise early and take the dog for a walk. While he is checking out the sage brush and rocks, it is possible to begin thinking about that day's writing. I used to carry a pocket notebook, but current technology allows voice activated note-taking with notepads or cell phones. Since I run a business, the next 2-3 hours are occupied handling eMails and phone calls. Writing time comes after lunch, usually lasting no more than 2 hours at which point it's break time where I slip out to the lounger on the patio and take a working “nap.” This allows a mental review of the newly-written material or planning out the next segment, experimenting with various scenarios before returning to the keyboard.

Living in an empty nest, this works well. When the kids were still at home, my scheduled writing time was after they went to bed, often working until 1 or 2 a.m. Whatever your circumstances, chose a block of time with the least interruptions and let everyone know that you do not wish to be disturbed. After a couple forgetful moments they will get the message.

Everyone is different and have different situations and challenges, but the key to writing is scheduling, consistency, and drive.