Unorthodox Writing Tips 29 – Control

My favorite daughter plays volleyball. They do drills over and over and over again. The girls are still learning the basics of the game and one of the things they’re getting better at is their platform. The coach gets upset when they don’t have the proper form. Yet still some of the girls will swing their arms out instead of getting into the correct position. Why? It’s easier to just swing your arms wildly and how for a good hit than it is to actually move your feet, set your platform, and hit the ball correctly.

The varsity coach has talked to the girls about this for the upcoming tryouts for varsity and junior varsity. He doesn’t want girls who just go for it. Aggression isn’t as important as correct form. Sure, the aggressive girl who swings at the ball might get seven or eight hits out of ten, but the girl with the correct platform and doing the drill correctly can be trained to his ten out of ten.

I did some body building for a time oh so many years ago. I’d see these ripped guys in the gym and they moved very slowly when it came to lifting weights. I asked my workout partner why they did the movements so slowly when it was easier to just pull hard and snap the weight up. He laughed. “Because you’ll hurt yourself that way.”

What I learned doing my workout the wrong way and the correct way was snapping up a heavy weight puts a lot of stress on your body, mainly your lower back, and joints. Whereas lifting the weight with slow, controlled movements meant it would take longer to do those ten repetitions, but I was getting a lot more from the workout by controlling the weight. You lift the weight slowly and count as your bring it up, and you lower the weight slowly taking just as much time to lower the weight. This control works the muscle harder, giving a more localized workout and not putting undue stress on your joints or lower back.

When it comes to your writing you need to take similar approaches. Yes, it’s easy to write by the seat of your pants. I’ve done that many times when I had just an idea to start with and just began with the banging on the keyboard and waited to see what came out on the other end. Normally I’d have an ending in mind and I’d work toward that ending. On other occasions I’d actually go through the trouble of plotting out a story and working my way through each chapter and then going in and writing. Both styles work for me and I can use which ever suits my needs at the time.

The point is, I have a method. I now follow that method when it comes to story creation and my writing periods. I don’t just ‘hope for the best’. I plan my time, I make better use of that time, and I’m a more efficient writer for it. It hasn’t been easy. I didn’t have a coach along the way to explain each misstep and tell me how to do it better or even where I was making mistakes. Those I had to learn on my own. I had to build my own base of knowledge to work from. Using that base means when I sit and write I’m comfortable with my style and I enjoy re-reading what I’ve written as much as when I wrote it.

Beyond that, I’m getting a lot more practice because I’m taking the time each and every day to write something or edit something and usually to read something. I know what works for me and what doesn’t and why. I can sit and start typing and come out with a great work count when I choose to. I’ve developed my writing muscles, I’ve established my writing platform, and I can bump/set/spike with less effort than when I started.

You need to establish your own level of control. It’s easy to sit and just start typing and want your writing to be good. It’s another to sit and make your writing good. Sure, firsts drafts will always be first drafts and require edits and rewrites. Even a second or third draft will require more editing and beta readers will point out plot holes and story issues that you’ve overlooked. You job as a writer is to write the best story you can. To do that, you need to practice. But don’t just practice, practice control over what you’re doing. Don’t just let the words tell a story, make them tell the story you want to tell in the way you want to tell it. The story may be very different in your head. Your job as a writer is to control the words you put on the page to convey the images you see in your head.

Until Next Time!


Posted on May 18, 2012, in Unorthodox Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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