Thursday, December 02, 2004

A writer's warm-up pitch

So this morning, after two hours of reading and researching, I'm about to start the first draft of a 3,500-word profile of a law professor (who is also the Chief Information Officer of the State of California) and a lot of other complicated things. I have pages of notes, a file folder of articles about him and sore eyeballs from reading.

But I'm using this blog to do what I tell my students -- limber up your fingers and your mind with other writing before you take on a big project (like a draft of an article that not only is long and complex, but which will be vetted by attorneys for the magazine, California Lawyer). If you get your fingers working and your brain in gear, sometimes the words flow faster.

One of Tom Wolfe's most famous dispatches was actually a letter he wrote to his editor, explaining why it was so hard to write the story. The editor took the letter, did some magic, and Voila! ... Tom Wolfe had a hit.

First drafts, for me, are a lot like when you take a multiple choice test: your first inclination is almost always the correct answer. So I rarely stress too much over the product of the first draft -- just getting those first few paragraphs down so that the story is interesting enough to drag readers along.

I've dragged you enough. On to J. Clark Kelso.

mjf 12/2/04

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