By in Writing

Writing Up a Mess - 5 - get it down

In the Beginning

Right from the start, we have so far had Tip 1 , Tip 2 , Tip 3 and Tip 4 , covering the use of a notebook , a journal , an outline and a drawing or map of what you want to write. Now it's time to get a bit of writing done.

Writing out of order

Sometimes, when you're writing a book or play or a piece of fiction of some kind, a particular scene comes to mind and you haven't a clue where it fits in. WRITE IT DOWN! Do it straight away. This is where your notebook comes in handy. Even write it on the back of a napkin or envelope if that's all you have handy! Just write, don't worry about grammar, spelling or anything else, get it down . The same goes if you are trying to write an article, a "how to" piece or a technical manual, get it down !

Don't even worry about how the story comes round to that - GET IT DOWN - the storyline (or article) will work itself out eventually.

I had a boss one time who was really good at making presentations and always remembered anything that was said to him or that he heard. He was NOT good at reading or writing (I think he was probably a bit dyslexic.) When it came to preparing a presentation (using Power Point) he would dictate it at great speed, just as the thoughts came out of his head. Now, I was not a secretary and although I can use a computer and keyboard, I am not as fast as a trained typist, so I just typed as fast as I could, head down, watching the keyboard and ignoring the screen. His ideas were always amazing and he ignored the screen too, because (a) his reading was not great so he didn't realise a lot of it was not spelt correctly and (b) he was always on a roll, so he didn't want anything to interrupt the flow. Once he had the ideas down, THEN that was the time to get everything into the right order, check spelling and add graphics. You cannot write and edit at the same time. They are different skills. When it's time to write - then write! When it's time to edit - then edit.

I used to save all the old presentations because we could use parts of them again, repurposing them to a new situation. And once they were down, they were there, ready for use. It's the same for fiction writing factual writing, such as manuals and academic writing too. Get it down.

It works for Academic Articles too

If you are writing an academic article or a very long report and are getting lost in it, then write an Appendix. What do I mean? Well, in a long report or an academic article there will be lots of sections that have to fit together into a coherent "story", just like any detective story (more on fitting it together later, for now, just do the writing). Sometimes you can get lost (believe me, you can get lost big time). And if you have left it for a while, it can be VERY hard to get back into writing it. If you have an 80-page report, you need to have the structure of it all somewhere in your mind, in order to add any pieces to it. So what did I do, when I had a big piece of writing, had left it for a while (life and babysitting and illness (not mine) happens) and had to get back into it or quit altogether? I wrote an appendix or ten.

What is an Appendix? What about a Codex?

An appendix contains material that provides extra information that is relevant to what is in the main text but which should not be in the main text because it hinders the flow of the article. I have written a separate (LOOOOONNNGGG) article on how to write an academic appendix here . It covers how to get started on a report or thesis again after a break, by using appendices. If you are writing a piece of fiction and you don't know how to move it forward, you can write a codex or back story covering that part. A codex or backstory is something you write to tell you how all your characters got to the point they are at. You generally don't publish these, they are just for the author's benefit, however, some authors, especially those who have written very long series novels have published their codex. A codex might tell a story of one character's childhood or a particular period in their life. It provides the author with the type of background knowledge they need for ensuring the character's motivation is correct or in character. Often, these bits are the "tell" sections authors write when they should be "showing" what is happening. Write the "tell" but keep it separate for your own benefit.

Keep it Safe

Make sure you keep it all safe because we will be putting it all together later. Even if it ends up being a series of post-it notes on a pinboard. keep it safe. it WILL come together!


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LisaSteinmetz wrote on November 11, 2014, 5:36 PM

I love this! My problem is that if I have a story in my head it sounds great, but once I go to write it on paper or on the computer it comes out wrong.

Feisty56 wrote on November 11, 2014, 8:05 PM

I am amazed at the organization that can happen in what seems disorganization.

carolscash wrote on November 11, 2014, 9:57 PM

I have found that when I think of something that can go into my book. I write it down and whether it is where I am in the story or not, I will use it.

MegL wrote on November 12, 2014, 3:19 AM

Yes, a lot of writers find that, including me. Unfortunately, some allow that to stop them writing. I have known two people for whom this happened. Both of them were better writers than me but they were never satisfied with how their writing looked to them and would never edit or continue on. They gave up, which was an awful pity.

MegL wrote on November 12, 2014, 3:20 AM

Yes, it's totally surprising, isn't it?

MegL wrote on November 12, 2014, 3:22 AM

Yes, get it down. Even if it can't be used right away, it's there for a future time. Sometimes you look at things you wrote ages ago and find they are just right for something now.

BarbRad wrote on November 12, 2014, 3:30 AM

This is great information for those trying to write a book. I haven't found it necessary yet for articles. I don't write fiction.

carmela wrote on November 12, 2014, 4:38 AM

your tips are a great help especially for an amateur writer like me. though writing a book in not anywhere near my agenda but these tips will surely help me organize my thoughts when writing my articles for Persona Paper. thank you!

iwrite28 wrote on November 12, 2014, 7:11 AM

This is a great article with fabulous tip. I will surely use the tips. Thank you.

inertia4 wrote on November 12, 2014, 11:11 AM

MegL I have bits and pieces of stories and poems all over my computer. But what I find is that, most of the time I forget about them. And every once in a great while I will remember and go through them. I don't have what it takes to write a novel, not yet anyway. But maybe one day I will.

AliCanary wrote on November 12, 2014, 1:03 PM

You are so right! I use this type of pell-mell-forge-ahead writing to get everything out, as well. The important thing is to get it all out. There's TONS of time later for getting it in order and cleaning up the details (you should see my horrible typing when I go at full speed)!

BenRyanLee wrote on November 13, 2014, 3:03 AM

When I write, I just write and write then I do some rewriting for the errors, eventually the whole mess then makes sense
I am still on the pen and paper method just scribbling away anytime and anywhere I could