Write. Read. Revise. Repeat.

Although sadly ignored, I have another blog out there, and the tagline is “Write. Read. Revise. Repeat.” The simplicity of the words combined with the staccato beats of the periods speaks to me, although I couldn’t tell you why. Perhaps the key is that these words are so simple, so direct when used this way, that its impossible to misunderstand what I have to do.

Yesterday was a read day. A dear friend and member of my writers’ group has begun splitting her time between New England and Florida. She was in town for a few weeks, and I was thrilled to see her in person last week during our critique session (we’ve been calling her so she can still join us, but it’s not really the same). This week we met for some writing time, just the two of us.

As much as writing is a solitary exercise, there’s something special about sharing that solitary exercise with a kindred spirit. I’m doing the writing on my own, and yet sharing my space with someone doing the same thing. I’ve found that joint writing time keeps me focused, as I don’t stray onto the internet, and I’m away from home so I’m not tempted to do those pesky chores instead of wrestle my plot into submission.

For me, the writing process includes the “read” and “revise” parts, so when I say we had a writing session, it can include those other activities. Today’s reading exercise provided a much needed confidence boost. While I try to plow forward and not let myself become sidelined by wordsmithing rather than finishing the story, sometimes I get distracted or stumped, and lose confidence in the tale I’m spinning. When I go back to the beginning and read what I’ve written, I can find myself pleasantly surprised, or at least reminded that yes, there’s a good story developing!

Of course, within the first twelve pages I captured at least fifteen notes: plot holes, missing details, or areas where I need to expand when I get to that revise state. For instance, I never explain or describe what the main character is wearing in the first chapter, nor do I capture the time of year. (Oops.) Is an armed alarm shown by a green light or a red? But, the reading step is most often energizing for me. I get excited about the story all over again, even when noting things that need to improve.

Sometimes, those notes turn into exciting side-topics to research, too. Today, I realized that I have a safe house with no discernible floor plan, and what I’ve described doesn’t make sense. While the actual floor plan won’t be in the book, as the writer, I need to be able visualize this space, well and clearly.  Some rainy day I’ll be working with Mr. Google, finding just the right former gate/carriage house-turned-guest cottage for this story, and I’ll save the floor plans to my Pinterest site.  (If you happen to live in one of these, let me know.)

I’m back to writing now. The good news is, I’ve fallen in love with this story all over again, and I can’t wait to write what happens next.  Hopefully, someday, y’all will get to pick up your own copy of this story in a local bookstore to read!

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Author: Pamela A. Oberg

Pamela is a portfolio manager at an educational assessment company by day, writer by night. Founder of Writers on Words (a discussion and critique group), Pamela enjoys spinning tales of murder and mayhem, with an occasional foray into the world of the paranormal.

15 thoughts on “Write. Read. Revise. Repeat.”

  1. Looking forward to seeing your book, Pam! Right now I’m in the plotting stage (I’ve found pantsing doesn’t work well). I did pants a first draft of this book I’m on and it has no middle. At some point, almost a year ago, I wrote up an outline. But right now I’m taking Simon Wood’s Guppy class on thriller writing and simultaneously reading Story Genius by Lisa Cron and the two combined have opened up whole new layers for me. So I’m writing lots of notes and revising the outline so that, hopefully, the next draft will be closer to a finished product.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I know exactly what you mean! My process is much the same in that I go back and read the chapter I’ve just written, or read it in the morning, and do some edits and fill in some plot holes and get reacquainted with my story.

    Writing in tandem sounds wonderfully energizing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m right there with you. Read. Write Rewrite. I generally work from a loose outline but invariably I find myself going back and moving things around. The middle is always the most difficult. I can see the end, but building those bridges can be difficult. It’s nice to know we’re not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Would you believe I am only getting online at 4:00pm. I’ve been in bed all day, sick.

    Anyway, I understand that thrill. A traditional outline doesn’t work for me, but my critique partner’s opinion is that first “messy draft” is my outline. All story, little subplot, very linear, and way underwritten because there’s little detail. But in reading in preparation for revising, there’s always a thrill of excitement when I think, “Oh yeah, and now I can write X and the story will really pop!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay for forward progress! I’m online taking a break from my work, which today bops between reading my finished book #1 looking for typos before the second printing, and working on the outline for book #3. That probably won’t be confusing at all! But like you, I’ve found some glaring issues, the main one being that I barely had a plot. I realized everything I had wouldn’t even fill half a book! Oops.

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  6. I write what I call a fluid outline. I need to know where I’m going bur leave room for movement. I think this comes from working in TV where there’s no time for a s–tty first draft. In fact, you get way more jobs if you have a rep as a strong first draft writer.

    I find pantsing dangerous. I tried being more loosey-goosey with a recent ms and totally screwed myself. I was all, I’ll figure out who the skeleton is when I get there. Well, what I came up with didn’t work, and I got blocked on how to fix it. I have a possible road, but it’s going to pull a big thread. So the ms is currently collecting e-dust in my computer, sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s really interesting, Ellen, that TV writing would require that quick first draft, but I never really thought about it. I think I’ve fought the outline because it felt too rigid. Now that I’ve accepted that I created the outline, and therefore I can update it, I’m feeling more open to the idea. Plus, the outline has saved me a few times when I couldn’t remember what I was planning to do next, but knew it was something interesting. Someday we should take all our dusty ms out and group-work them. It might be fun! I’ve got a lovely locked room mystery that I can’t seem to.. . unlock. 🙂

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    2. I just decided to off a different character in Act One so while I was printing the new version of the outline this morning, I was so grateful I’d made this change before I wrote the MS. It would have been a mess.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you have writing time with someone else. There’s no doubt in my mind that the air holds an amped amount of creative energy when two or more people are building a story in the same space. I’m jealous!

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  8. As a read only participant, I am glad that authors take the time to write, read, revise and repeat so that my read part will be more enjoyable. Thanks, from all the readers, for your efforts.

    Like

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