Writing and Research

Ed: I so I totally meant to post this on Monday instead of `this post <http://tychoish.com/posts/upcoming/>`_, but the wires got crossed, and Monday's post got out early. Sorry. --ty

The one thing that really undermines my argument against preemptive rewriting is the fact that I'm a compulsive outliner, at least for some things.

Since I'm currently in the "planning a new story/project" phase [1] I've been thinking about the outlining process a bit.

The difference between blogging and writing is that in a blog post I maybe scribble something on a paper ahead of time, but the rhetorical thread comes out of my fingers and on to your screens pretty much straight through. [2] Blogging is very much like the research process of fiction writing, in that it's a process of taking an idea and figuring out what it means, and a lot of the possibilities in whatever thing or situation (blog and fiction respectively). In blogging, you pray someone's interested or you've written something that gets folks irked enough to respond, in fiction you take all this thought work and then write about only the things that really need writing about.

And then I realized the other day, that I write the outlines of my stories--indeed my entire personal wiki notepad--to you, dear blog readers. At some point years ago I got a pretty good idea of who "you" are, and as a result generally my blog posts are all addressed to the same positional reader (even though that reader/group has changed a bit, and my conception of "the reader" has always been pure fantasy on my part.) Even though I'm the only one that reads this document, all the parts are written to the same person. It's all very strange.

But I digress. Research.

I think the sort of stock advice to the new writer doing research is "don't get too caught up in planning, writing is about writing, not planning to write," and while I do think that the reminder to always keep the writing in mind, at the same time, there's something really important and intense about the planning process that shouldn't be ignored. It's a lot of work, there are a lot of words that go into getting a story to the point where you can even think about starting to write in ernest. In the end I think it's not so much about what you outline or what you read up on, as the act of doing it. The time spent in your head thinking about this world, and this idea.

Speaking of thought work, I have some to do.

Onward and Upward!

[1]It's true that I'm not exactly finished with any of the existing stories/projects, I've realized that my slate of open projects are: Station Keeping (which is always ongoing, and I'm 8 episodes away from being done with the second season), Trailing Edge (which I thought was going to be a novel-scope project, but I was so wrong, and it turns out that I'm close to being done and taking a break), and I have another Knowing Mars story or two that I'm not particularly interested in writing just yet. And since I'm my own writing boss, I can work on a new story.
[2]I write non-time sensitive entries in batches and post them later, mostly because I want to get blog posts going live up in the morning, and don't want to have to cram to get them done every night, and I like this rhythm, but the it's still very off the cuff, and minimally edited. But you knew that.
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