The Self-Aware Writer – Self-Awareness & The Drafting Process

Last time, we talked about utilizing self-awareness as a writer when crafting an outline for your story.  Today, we’ll discuss the best way to use self-awareness during the drafting process.

Let’s get started.

Drafting, Drafting, Drafting

Many writers are intimidated by the drafting phase of the writing process.  Taking an idea that has been fleshed out into bullet points in an outline is one thing, but to actually WRITE chapters and a coherent narrative that’s tens of thousands of words?  Madness!

No matter your feelings on the subject, writing that first draft is an essential step in getting to the final draft, but this is another case where you want to put your self-awareness tool to the side and let the creativity flow with as much passion and uncensored glory as you wish.

Hey, it’s a rough/first draft.  It’s for your eyes only.  No one will see this version, so why not take the brakes off and let your imagination run wild.  Stick with the outline you’ve crafted, but if a character or story point takes you somewhere new and more compelling, go there.

Give yourself the freedom to play, to explore, to run free.  This is the time to do it.

I’ve been working through an outline before and realized that I hadn’t given my subplots much consideration, so I’ve taken some time to explore their characters and situations.  It helped strengthen the overall story and enhanced the main character’s arc.  If I hadn’t deviated from what I had outlined, I never would have discovered these new aspects.

Once you’ve played around and written THE END on your rough/first draft, it’s time for the kid to take a nap and the self-aware writer to take over.

Revising with Self-Awareness

Now is the time to take a step back and look at your draft as both author and reader.  This is when any sense of “I’m an artist, and everything I write is gold” must be locked away so common sense can take the helm.

After all, you want to make sure as you make revisions that the story makes sense; the characters grow and change; that dialogue is realistic for the story you’re telling; that descriptions paint and clear picture for the reader; and that your main story and subplots have a clear beginning, middle, and end.  

This can be a lengthy process that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  This is where the story really begins to take shape.  It’s where themes are solidified.  It’s where you can fix the story’s pacing, cut aspects that don’t work, and add things that will improve the reader’s experience.

Part of being a self-aware writer is knowing when to cut things – even if you love them – to improve the story.  Realizing that maybe a plot point that worked in the outline causes the story’s momentum to fizzle once it’s fleshed out in chapter form.  Your self-awareness enables you to detect these issues and fix them.

Again, this is a process that is rewarding once you have crafted a story and characters that are exactly what you intended when you set out to write this book.

Next Time…

You’ve done it.  You’ve revised, cut, added, moved around, and re-chaptered your story.  You’re on your ninth or tenth draft and feel pretty good.  It’s time to edit; self-awareness can help you with that, too!

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!

The Self-Aware Writer – Self-Awareness & Story Development

When it comes to story development and outlining your story, I feel it’s best to put self-awareness on the back burner for the time being.  I know it’s crazy that I’m saying this since this is a series about using self-awareness as a writer.  However, it’s just as important to know when not to use it as when it is.

Let’s talk about it!

Story Development – Creativity Unleashed

Once you have an idea that you feel is strong enough to develop into a longer story, it’s time to put everything on the table.  Every idea, story beat, inciting incident, and plot twist should be up for grabs to get your idea out on the page so you can breathe life into it.

This means your characters should have free reign to do what they want, when they want, and how they want in pursuit of strong character arcs, relationships, and growth throughout the story.  Don’t hold back, and don’t be afraid to have your antagonist do things that are off-the-rails crazy.  Your goal is to create a compelling and interesting story at this stage.  This version is for your eyes only, so have fun, and don’t let the inner critic throw up roadblocks that show down your creativity.

At this point, you’ll want to start crafting an outline that allows you to place your story and characters in some sort of coherent order.  You want to work through the story from start to finish, giving yourself a rough roadmap of how your story will unfold and the characters will develop and change.  

Implementing Self-Awareness

Now that you have a story outline, it’s time to review it and utilize self-awareness to strengthen your writing.  This is a good point.  Take a step back as the writer and look at your story outline as a reader.  

What aspects of your story sound too familiar and could be altered to be different than what has been done before?  What are the strong points of your story?  Are there weak story points or characters that deserve another look?  Are there parts of the story that could be cut that don’t impact the narrative?  Do all the subplots tie into the main story somehow?  Is your main character interesting?  Are they actively involved in the story?  

I like to complete an outline draft and then walk away, allowing my brain to reflect and subconsciously pick out parts that might need a second look.  I jot down notes on my phone or paper as possible changes to strengthen the story outline.

It can be tempting to barrel through with a subpar outline, but that can lead to issues later in the drafting phase that can grind your progress to a halt.  And while changes are inevitable, having a strong outline going into the rough draft phase can save you a lot of time and a lot of headaches down the road.

Up Next…

Once you’re ready to write, what aspects of being a self-aware writer are best to use during the rough draft phase and beyond?  We’ll talk about it.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!