The Dangers of Inadequate Writing Time

The Dangers of Inadequate Writing Time

Primary Flight Display for a CRJ on autopilot at 40,000 feet.
Courtesy of my husband, Harold.

The Dangers of Inadequate Writing Time

Sometimes when I sit down to write, whether for my own writing work or for my copywriting client work, I have a vision in my mind about how the writing should read. Only when I sit down to write it, I'm stuck. The first sentence doesn't seem right or I'm not sure how to start it.

It's easy to reach this point and hold yourself back so that you never finish the first draft.

But then I remember that I just need to write the first draft, no matter how bad it is. It doesn't even have to have complete sentences.

Why? Because the real magic happens through the revisions. All I have to do is write down the bones and I can revise it into a polished piece that I'm happy with, one that my clients love. That's why allowing enough writing time is so important.

Writing well involves many processes. There is the physical act of writing. Then there is brainstorming, marinating, reviewing, and revision. It takes time to write well because all of these processes are involved. We need to set aside our writing work and let it marinate for a little while so that when we go back to it, we can see it with fresh eyes. The writing just needs time.

If you were to go over the copy multiple times in one sitting, you would become bored with it and your mind would go on autopilot.

One problem with autopilot (although not considered a problem in all cases from a pilot's standpoint) is that it doesn't alert you to necessary corrections. It will make the corrections on its own to stay on course.

As a writer on autopilot, you will see the writing as it should be rather than as it really is, causing you to miss the corrections you need to make.

Another problem with autopilot is that it doesn't make deviations. Once the pilot programs the flight management system (FMS), the autopilot will follow that route and make heading (i.e., direction) and altitude corrections to stay on course. If a storm is in its path, the autopilot will go right through it. That's why pilots are still necessary members of the flight crew!

Just like pilots, sometimes we need to change routes to make our writing better. If we're on autopilot, however, we'll miss the opportunities to change course.

Allowing ourselves plenty of writing time for each step of the writing process is an essential part of being a writer. Only then can we allow ourselves to write well.

Jody Calkins
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