Just the Type

September 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

At GrubStreet, Cam Terwilliger nails a problem I have only recently taken up in my own writing:

However, working too closely with what you have can create pitfalls as well. When we feel obligated to work on what’s already there we often become paralyzingly fixated on the sunk cost we have in the current text. When you have the draft in front of you, staring you in the face, you keep trying to find the way to make the scenes you have into scenes that work. This can be very distracting. And—more troublingly—it keeps you from envisioning radically different (but better) possibilities. What matters most during revision often isn’t what you have on the page. What matters is what should be on the page.

Terwilliger recommends retyping the story line by line to open up new possibilities for narrative, rather than shoehorn things into the framework that is already there. To this end I have been doing more writing away from the computer, in a Moleskine or on napkins, enough ingredients to bring back something new to the soup that wasn’t there before. It not only gives me more freedom to play around, but it makes me more excited to go back to the manuscript when I know I have something interesting to bring with me.


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