Writing Exercise: The Clay of Deconstruction

Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Sometimes deconstructing a concept by comparing it to something else can help a person grasp the structure of an idea better. For today’s writing exercise, we will be comparing the writing process to other arts.

Writing is frustrating. I always say get things down on paper or a computer screen. You can’t fix things that haven’t been written.

But then, you need to return to it again and again – filling in dialog and description during draft 2; adjusting timelines, locations, and characters for consistence in draft 3; then all the editing processes when other people start reviewing your work. It seems like nothing else could be this frustrating, returning again and again to the same project until done.

One and done. Everyone else seems to be able to do it that way. Why is writing this difficult?

And yet … and yet.

Nearly all art forms go through this rough draft through final form phase. Working in isolation keeps creatives from knowing this requirement is part of the artistic process – from architects to embroideries, from singers to chefs.

WRITING EXERCISE: Compare some aspect of writing to another art form. Share your efforts below directly or through a link back to your own website. Do you think it helps to know you are not alone? Did this exercise give you insight on how to approach a writing project?

My Attempt

The advice is “get it written, then get it right”.

Do not push hard to get everything done perfect the first time with writing. Think clay.

Getting the first pass on paper is like going down to the river, digging out the clay, bringing it back home, and dropping it on the wheel. You now have something to work with.

It is nowhere ready to be sold. It is a lump of clay.

You still need to shape it. Smooth it. Round and round the wheel spins.

Add description. Test the timelines. Are the characters consistent? How is the rise and fall of action?

Dry it.

Let the words sit for a time.

Fire it, harden it. Paint it. Fire it again.

Send it out to beta readers. Fix those issues. Send it to the editors and proofreaders at your publisher (or the ones you hire as a self-published).

Only after the work has been run through fire does the clay become pottery.

Only after the work has been run through fire does writing drafts become novels.

You may want to skip steps, but the pottery won’t hold water or will crumble if held wrong.

You may want to skip steps, but the novel will have plot holes. It won’t be the best it can be without the extra work.