During a recent spring clean I came across chapters seven and eight of a novel my husband and I were writing five years ago (but abandoned when life got too busy). It’s about the upheaval and outrage that occurs when a community is forced to go without fuel … which seems all the more relevant at the moment with New Zealand’s rising fuel prices and the pain this is causing at a personal and political level. The underlying idea was to explore what withdrawing from our addiction to fuel will look like, and its many similarities to other addictions.
In my fiction writing days people often asked me how I could bear to write a novel with someone else. The key was to have distinct roles. I was generally better suited to the pioneering business of writing the early drafts (and perfecting the proofreading) but Dean was better at adding colour during the structural editing process.
While it wasn’t always easy to hear something needed to be cut or rewritten, it was fantastic to see the more distinctive dialogue, characterisation and descriptions which resulted from this process.
Something similar happened when I came to write Three Steps to Successful Council Documents. My graphic designer (Denise Tombs at DDesign) took the raw material and ran with it. It’s really exciting to see something come together that neither of us could achieve alone.
I get the same buzz from working with council staff with different skills than mine to create documents which benefit from the collaboration. Sometimes I’m responsible for coming up with a first draft for my clients to revise and enhance. At other times they send me their rough draft and it’s my role to look at the structure, and to identify what should be cut and any critical information which needs to be included. In other situations, the content is all in place and it’s just a matter of proofreading what’s there.
I have come to see that even though I love working in my home office, and generally do my best writing and editing work when alone, my work is far from a solo effort. It is just as collaborative now as the work I did while sharing an office with 20 other people — and the three stage writing process helps me to understand what my role needs to be on any particular project.
I hope anyone who downloads my free guide will also benefit from seeing the distinct stages of their writing process — from initial idea to refinement of that message and then polishing it through proofreading. It makes each step in that creative process more enjoyable — regardless of whether you are doing all the stages yourself or sharing the load.
As an example, as I write this article I’m going through all the stages of the process outlined in the guide. I held my nose while typing up the ghastly first draft, and now (several days later) I have scribbled over five different versions of the document as I clarify and then polish that initial idea. Knowing what stage I’m up to helps me to avoid becoming discouraged by the glaring flaws in an early draft.
Three Steps to Writing Successful Council Documents includes:
You can access the guide here.