Whenever you write, whatever you write, getting started is generally the hardest part of the process.
Most established writers develop a routine - it may be a ritual they complete before settling into their work, it may be a certain literary approach to their writing. Whatever it is, it has usually evolved after spending an inordinate amount of time staring at a blank screen.
For many newcomers, however, writing remains a mysterious process that inexplicably occurs.
Fortunately for these writers, help is at hand in the form of a new how-to book from Kate Grenville, an award-winning novelist who has run writing workshops in universities in the US and Australia since 1981.
Grenville's approach to writing, as detailed in `Writing From Start to Finish', is different from many others. Instead of thinking ahead of writing, she prefers to reverse the process, by allowing the mind to "roam around the topic in a free-form way".
This is the time, she says, to explore the topic, making a few notes as you go. Once you have enough literary titbits, you can begin placing them in some kind of order, expanding upon some and deleting others. By this time, "the process of creating and the process of judging" are separate.
So, once the writer has written, the internal editor is free to edit. Too often, as Grenville argues, the situation is reversed by thinking before writing.
`Writing From Start to Finish' simplifies the process of writing and presents it as six steps that can be applied to a novel, essay or report. They are:
* Getting ideas (in no particular order)
* Choosing (selecting the most useful ideas)
* Outlining (putting these ideas into order - making a plan)
* Drafting (writing a first draft, from beginning to end, without going back)
* Revising (cutting, adding or moving parts of this draft where necessary)
* Editing (proof-reading for grammar, spelling and meaning)
Each step is demonstrated by two sample pieces of writing - a story and an essay - which evolve through the course of the book. At the end of the book, the reader will have achieved a polished piece of writing.
There are many writing books available, but if you're looking for a user-friendly introduction to the craft, Grenville's book will ease you in gently and guide you along the way.
-- Michael Meanwell, author of the critically-acclaimed 'The Enterprising Writer' and 'Writers on Writing'. For more book reviews and prescriptive articles for writers, visit [...]