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How to Write More Efficiently #2

Memoir writer ask, “How can I write more efficiently?”

In a previous post, I had developed the concept of writing on a deadline. In this post I will stay with the concept of writing close to the finish.

Yes, writing is a process but…

While I continue to believe that writing ought to be open-ended and that you ought to remain in the process of discovering your theme and subject rather than opt for a too-quick closure (“This is what my story means”), I also believe in something that is a bit contradictory to this. I believe that it is important to develop a habit of writing as close to finish quality as is possible. Some writers are comfortable writing in what I consider a sloppy manner and defend themselves saying, “I  will polish (or tighten) this up tomorrow.” When tomorrow rolls around, there is another task  to be done that might have gotten finished the previous day rather than distract us from fresh writing today.

Write close to the finish; write more efficiently.

It is a more economical to write with an eye on the finish product. Here are some examples of how you can write more efficiently.

  • On a mechanical level, learn to leave only one space between sentences rather than sometimes two sometimes three sometimes one. (“I can clean up later”).
  • On  stylistic level, check your spelling and syntax. While the text is fresh in mind you may be able to effect 80 or 90% of the corrections and do so quickly as you do not have to refresh your sense of the meaning.
  • Thematically, you can ask yourself  consistently, “How I am describing my character, is that consistent with the theme I am endeavoring to put across?”

Wash up as you prepare a meal!

To use a metaphor, if you cook and wash the dishes as you are in the process of  making a meal (that is desirable, for instance, if you want to move efficiently from preparing one dish to another. I often make corn bread and wash the dishes that go into that before I start on a stir fry or perhaps I wash the soup-preparation dishes before I start a corn bread.) To extend the metaphor, this habit makes it possible to have easier access to clean tools—a whisk that has been used to stir corn bread batter  cannot be used to fluff  egg white until it has been washed.

So, in the same way, I believe that working through a draft with a sense of not simply writing for length (which I don’t want to knock as a commitment as length is often necessary before one knows one’s subject enough to formulate a theme) or to express a feeling, but even so, writing with a sense of where the text might go is a way to write more efficiently.

Writing close to the finish is a practice that you might well use in writing your memoir if you want to learn to write quickly and write more efficiently.

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