Unclear thinking is an enemy of the writer, and it’s most often about being lazy and not fully imagining your story. Write with clarity of purpose, and your writing comes alive.
What is the biggest hurdle for any writer? A lack of time? The blank page? Writer’s block? Having your ideas stolen? The absence of an agent or publisher?
You’ll make the time if you really want to, writer’s block will pass once you fill up again on ideas, and if your ideas are worth stealing, you’ll quickly get another better one. And today, you can self-publish easier than ever.
So, could the worst thing be poor grammar or an inability to spell? What about technophobia that makes dealing with computers a nightmare? Is it a fear of business and the social-media savvy required to promote and sell books? Is it the fierce competition of the book market?
If you have a great story but just need help tidying up the mechanics, hire an editor, copy-editor, or proof-reader. Heck, you can even easily hire a ghost writer these days. If you are a technophobe, write long-hand. It worked for centuries. And while selling books is great, you took on this writing gig for personal satisfaction, right? So who cares about promotion and competition?
So, what is the number one enemy of the writer? Unclear thinking.
Have you ever had the joy of hearing an incredibly clear thinker speak? Thoughts flow in perfect order. It’s so easy to follow. They must be remembering 20 things in their minds at once. Mozart wrote out entire works from memory; he was just dictating. Asimov only wrote two drafts: a first draft and a second to publish. Mozart and Asimov are paradigms of clear thinking. Each thought – whether note or word – has its place. Not one can be dropped, added, or replaced.
The rest of us need help to achieve this kind of clarity of thought. Some use outlines. Some make mind maps, index cards, fill walls with post-it notes, or notebooks with pages of character, setting, and plot developments. Whatever you do, however you do it, it needs to be there.
Clarity of thought is a key reason pantsing and dumping work for some people. Since it’s all one train of thought, not a mash-up of edits done at different times and different moods, it is more cohesive. Others obtain this cohesion through successive rounds of editing.
Clear thinking is a straight path from A to Z.
Unclear thinking makes messes. Unclear thinking yields clumsy, ineffective, wandering trails of words that leave readers in the thickets, cut and bruised, or in the desert, hot and begging for nourishment.
These messes are hard to clean up, and at worst, are unfixable. Editors and beta readers can point out where things go out of focus, but they can’t offer solutions. That is up to you.
So, how to improve clarity of thought? Look at the higher structure of your writing. Sentences need clear logic, but so do paragraphs and larger chunks of text. Chapters need to flow and the longest sections of a book – beginning, middle and end – need to make sense.
Unclear thinking is most often about being lazy and not fully imagining your story. Get your discipline on and think it out completely. Most of all, recognize in your own writing when you’ve insufficiently imagined your story. Write with clarity of purpose, and your writing comes alive.
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Completing A Novel: A Look At Various Writing Methods
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The opposite writing habits of famous authors [Infographic]