I've begun writing my monthly newsletter.
Usually, I write something, feel that I've nailed it, only to return to it, find it a mess, and toss the whole thing out the day it's due to write something different. It's stressful and still not my favourite way to do it.
However, when I started today, I tried something different. I wrote everything I thought it could be about, emptying myself onto the page. It's certainly not in any order or shape, but I think I've got the general idea down.
Tomorrow, I plan to do a new draft—no rewriting or straight copying—and find its shape and ask if there is anything else I would write about.
I'll keep repeating this until the blob of words begins to form a structure. I hope that once the structure forms, the rest of the writing will go smoother.
This process reminds me of Peter Elbow's Writing Without Teachers, in which he suggests you do a developmental writing process by writing it multiple times and trying to let the piece evolve through each draft.
For example, you divide your time into four units for four hours. With the first unit of 1 hour, spend 45 minutes putting as much on the page as quickly as possible without overthinking it. Then, reread what you have in the last 15 minutes and summarize it.
What he's seeking is the centre of gravity that shapes the piece. Once he's found it, he writes it into a sentence, repeats the process for another 45 minutes, then summarizes for 15. The ultimate goal is to clarify your thinking and get it on the page.
Of course, I am not rushing my writing. I have learned that taking time away from writing wipes my slate clean and allows me to look at it with fresh eyes. I also know that I will not summarize it but distill the main points I want to make.
I also think there's something to be said for rewriting your ideas over and over from one day to the next. I think you do find clarity and phrasing until it feels natural. I equate it to how repeating a story or an idea in our head is a lot like rehearsing it. The more we practice, the better it gets.
So this week will tell you how it goes for me. If the monthly newsletter is a mess, I know it failed me. But for now, I'm hopeful.
David Gane Newsletter
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