Priming the Pump (On Writing And Editing)


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So, I started back at my farm handing gig this week. On the farm they got this cool hand pump, and and it’s sort of confusing to use, because when you pull the handle open, at first nothing comes out, but then you pump it a couple of times, and then you hear this little push of pressure and then water is just gushing out of the pipe. I read recently about how it was a good idea for writer to prime the pump as well when editing and rewriting. So that before you set down to edit even, you should take some time and just write some new stuff, maybe more background, supplemental material for the work in progress, or even the next sort  You may not incorporate this material into the final story, but doing it you will learn new things about your characters and get into the rhythm of being a word slinger. 

Today I started priming the pump by doing some free writing. So I wrote two sections adding on to pre-existing scenes, one of which I got into a characters heads which I hadn’t done previously, and with both of these I think I actually may incorporate some things in the final draft. I also just did some writing about the world of my story, and it actually was pretty insightful. I was able to generate some interesting ideas which help me understand my world better. And though I may not use any of this materially directly in the story, knowing it will help me mature the world overall.

I have been having some trouble editing, duh says frequent readers of the blog, but I think my problem was I wasn’t priming the pump. Instead what I was doing was just staring at a mass of text, hoping somehow that the yellow break road of the story would just open up. But like all things worthwhile and challenging, it is all about routine and doing the work. The work for a writer is writing, coming up with new words everyday. You have to feel that energy and have that creative energy to keep the whole process alive and moving forward.

I am currently reading “Revision and Self-Editing” by James Scott Bell. I am really enjoying reading all these books on writing. Even when the tips aren’t groundbreaking, just having another writers thoughts and experience, helps the spirit and the method. Also because hopefully it is writing, these books are easy and quick to read. And you get great reading lists!



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