Sunday, December 2, 2012

Writing Technique Inspired by Tag Clouds

I call it "clouding," because I am a genius. Here's the back story.

While writing the bulk of my most recent book, I set a daily word count goal that usually changed by the week. My method would be to take a piece of paper to work and try to write a scene during my 15 minute breaks and my lunch. Then I would go home and type the scene and meet my word count. That worked okay maybe two days of the week. Most of the time my brain would be numb, I'd be lucky to write 300 words total on my piece of paper and when I got home I would be so burned out trying to produce the scene that I'd only type the words on the page and make such little progress and wallow in literary despair.

Something had to be done.

One day I was looking at my blank paper of doom and decided to chill out and just jot some things down, not worry about it being a scene, just to save my sanity. That's when I remembered the Tag Cloud on Smashwords.
A tag cloud is basically a group of words you have tagged all your books/stories with. These groupings of words together give a taste of what the writer is all about, collectively, even if the words are very different. Here's a screencap of Matilda's current humble tag cloud on Smashwords:

So, I started by just writing words that brought the essence of the scene out, which led to a rough outline of the scene with a few lines I wanted to use. I hadn't filled up much of my page at all, but I went home and typed over my word count goal. By not burning myself out and giving myself some time to brew over the essence of the scene, I was able to be much more productive.

This page is a week of my awesome clouding:

Normally, I would have tried to handwrite that much of a page at least in a day in the crevices of work. But this half a page turned into 2 1/2 chapters, one chapter is almost 3,000 words long. Much better than trying to force out scenes when I'm tired and uninspired.

I guess the lesson is, if something isn't working, try something new. Rearrange your ideals. I used to think it was impossible for me to write complete scenes unless I had handwritten them first. But my happy little clouds have proven me wrong. And I'm much more sane because of it.

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