Passion and Precision: A Balancing Game by Wyatt Bessing
Welcome back to our monthly columnist, Wyatt Bessing. A writing coach and teacher, author, as he shares with us “Passion and Precision: A Balancing Game.” Enjoy!
My wife sometimes accuses me of going to extremes. In the car, the heater is either on full blast or the AC is icy. I can be a bouncing Tigger one minute, a solemn and quiet Eeyore the next. When writing I’m the same way, methodical and slow in outlining, then writing with abandon, not stopping or thinking or even coming up to breathe.
Every writer must find his or her own rhythm, and this is the one that seems best suited to my temperament. I write my first drafts longhand, unleashing the flow of thoughts. As I type in the words I’ll add flourishes and deeper imagery without editing too much. Then – only after I print that first draft – do I begin to edit by hand and finally retype.
How do you maintain the balance between passion and precision in your writing?
- Write longhand. I love the feeling of the pen tip on the paper, watching the physical marks appear on the page. I love how fast I write this way, thoughts pouring out in a river. It’s a metaphor, sure, but that image deepens my process.
- Type it in. I’ll naturally correct, add, and delete as I go, crafting and shaping the raw words and ideas from Step 1.
- Print and edit. Now, from a reader’s point of view, I pore over my manuscript, marking it up, filling in any missing details, crossing out extraneous verbiage and dead end thoughts, sharpening each dull word.
- Type it in again. Now the passion of the process starts bubbling as I rediscover and heighten my original intentions and intermix ideas I generated in editing, uncovering new perspectives and honing my expression.
This process may go through many cycles depending on the project’s scope. The writing becomes an internal dialogue, a series of logical leaps and bursts of passionate insight. It’s essential to me to have this defined process, a map to follow when I feel lost or my thoughts feel sluggish.
Now write down your own process. Keep a copy of these instructions beside your bed, next to your computer, in your pocket, wherever you might write. When you feel stuck or resistant to writing, read your instructions. Let them whisper to you like a muse, like the wind, a sweet wind luring you back to your passionate writing life.
Of course, following the same path each day may become tedious. I enjoy exploring new routes now and then. So I’ve come up with a game to challenge myself and my process.
I grab a die and note six ways I could alter my process for a day:
- Start by typing, not writing.
- Time myself for ten minutes; see how much I can type or write.
- Change the metaphor – be a fire burning across the page.
- Alternate typing and writing the same draft.
- Type it all, then print and literally cut and paste, writing on the back.
- Write longhand, rip it up randomly, rearrange before typing.
Don’t be afraid to play with your instructions. Don’t let them rule you. Write your own list of six ways to add chance and passion to your process.
Make a list and roll!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wyatt Bessing is a writer, writing coach, and learning specialist. His stories and essays have appeared in Bedtime-Story.com, Outsider Ink, national educational assessment materials, and in the anthology Dance, Human Rights, and Social Justice. Through his workshops, website, and blog at wyattgbessing.com, he guides new and experienced writers in crafting more effective, expressive, and striking work. During the day, he works at Star Academy in San Rafael, teaching reading and comprehension skills to students with learning differences in elementary through high school. He lives in Santa Rosa, CA with his wonderful fiancee and co-creator, Sarah Laugtug.