Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Tip For Tuesday

Thought I might try a writing Tip for Tuesday series for a bit. I've got a great selection of writing books I thought I'd dip into and share some of the pearls of wisdom contained inside.

Have you read The Art of War for Writers?

James Scott Bell has hit one out of the park with this manual. 77 tight chapters to help the writer strategize their writing careers, hone their writing skills, and sharpen their editing abilities.

The things I loved about this book:

1. How JSB broke things down into manageable bites. He's a tight writer at all times, but The Art of War for Writers has no extraneous words.

2. The clear divisions and direction. The book is separated into three parts: reconnaissance, tactics, and strategy.

3. The examples, graphics, and humor. When things got a little sticky or unclear for me, I'd turn the page and there was a concrete example or chart or witty turn of phrase that cleared things up for me.

The Tip for Today from The Art of War for writers comes from chapters 25 and 26

  • Write Hard, Write Fast, and the Fire of Creation Will be Yours.
  • Edit Slow, Edit Tough, With a Process Both Clear and Cool.

I've found this to be so true for me. The most lucid first drafts I've written have been my NaNo novels, where I don't stop to overthink things but let the words and the story idea consume me and pour out onto the page. And my best editing comes after a cooling off period, a time of reflecting and gearing up. Then rereading the entire work and making a plan for the editing.

How about you? Do you write hot and edit cool? Do you edit as you go? What have you found produces your most creative work?


  1. Oooh, good questions! I haven't read this but I've heard of it.
    I tend to edit as I write, and then edit more when I finish. I think if I wrote a first draft too fast it would be a mess because I'm not a good analyzer, strategist, etc. I just write what comes into my head, so I usually need to reread what I've written to orient myself.
    Thanks for the tips!

  2. Oh, I LOVE this book! I'm going to share about some of my favorite things in it this week too!

    Bell is so concise and every nugget is packed with so much information. He is very motivational too, though he does lay it all out on the table and makes no bones about the discipline needed to be an author. I loved it!

  3. Read it. Found it invaluable. One of the best books on writing I've read.

    I write extremely fast, sometimes finishing a rough draft in two to three months, but I edit slow (really slow this time).
    ~ Wendy

  4. This is a great book! I've mostly always done the write hot edit cool, but this time I'm going a bit slower and trying to think things through ahead of time. Not sure how this will play out....

  5. I don't have that book. Need to get it, b/c I love JSB. I wish I wrote faster, edited slower, but I can't stop myself overthinking the whole way through first, second, third drafts. I hope I'll improve with practice.

  6. I believe in the "write fast" concept. As one of the writers in my writers' group noted, you have to give yourself permission to write c--p, because you can't edit a blank page. Vey true words.

    Currently, reading "The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction" by Jeff Gerke