Confessions of a Binge Writer: How I Create a Quality Written Product (By Omah Williams, P.O.W.E.R. Consultant)

 

Confessions of a Binge Writer: How I Create a Quality Written Product

By Omah Williams, P.O.W.E.R. Consultant

 

When deciding what I should write for this blog post, I immediately thought of a class project I completed about a year ago. I used a set of steps that helped me to create a quality written product for the class project. These steps are:

 

1.     Freely write and then read your work aloud.

2.     While reading aloud, record the session (e.g., iPhones work great!).

3.     Play the recording and critically listen.

4.     Revise and edit your work.

5.     Repeat steps 1 – 4 for each paragraph or page of your composition.

 

I believe my steps are for binge writers, as they were created from a binge writing session. Binge writing can be defined as quickly writing an entire work within a very short amount time for the sake of meeting a pressing deadline – it is stressful and daunting. I created these steps while working on a class project approximately 48 hours before it was due. The project required creation of a biography and movie about a little known person in American public education history. I started the project approximately 2 weeks before the due date – I researched articles, asked tons of questions, and read selected periodicals. Unfortunately, I found myself composing text and binge writing about 2 days before the project’s due date. An explanation of each step follows:

 

Step 1. Freely write and then read your work aloud.

Peter Elbow (1998) says, “writing is thinking”. While getting my ideas on the screen, I created a way to manage my desire to edit. Loosely tracking my writing with a timer, I free-wrote for approximately 30 minutes or until I wrote one double-spaced page. Afterwards, I began reading my work aloud, attempting to analyze what I heard.  During the first few reading sessions, I noticed I wasn’t focused on critically listening to myself, as I kept editing the same sentence or paragraph. To force more concentration, I decided to create another me for a faux POWER writing consultation. Thus, I recorded my voice and attempted to listen to it as though it were someone else – “the Voice” was born.

 

Step 2. While reading aloud, record the session (e.g., iPhones work great!).

Instead of purchasing a new gadget to record my reading session, I used my beloved iPhone. I quickly found I was able to record myself as many times as I wanted. I could delete previous recordings and use the sliding tracker to pinpoint and playback certain recorded sentences or paragraphs. The ease of using my iPhone was glorious.  More importantly, I became keenly aware of how and what I was writing - “the Voice” took on it’s own persona.

 

Step 3. Play the recording and critically listen.

Throughout each listening session, I anticipated likely ideas and questioned clarity. If “the Voice” sounded organized and clear, and the words on the screen matched the “the Voice”, I was happy. If I heard unclear or disorganized ideas, I highlighted the written words or wrote notes on my screen in a different color. Additionally, I would re-read and re-record sections of my composition; thus, allowing myself to talk off script about my ideas. I quickly learned that using the composition on the screen as both script and springboard moved my writing in more organized and clear directions – I consulted “the Voice”.

 

Step 4. Revise and edit your work.

Sometimes “the Voice” would flip key phrases or replace words with better terms. When such occasions happened, I edited the words on my screen accordingly. Furthermore, I felt the disconnection of “the Voice” as a separate persona or the embodiment of my subconscious self. I noted any discrepancy I read aloud, revising and editing small chunks of text, until I wrote and moved through the entire composition. Additionally, when I needed to compose text and was stuck, I recorded “the Voice” talking about what it wanted and what it was trying to accomplish via certain terms or phrases. When “the Voice” got tired and became silent, I transcribed “the Voice’s” recording and restarted the revision process - I trusted “the Voice”.

 

Step 5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 for each paragraph or page of your composition.

While writing my composition, I noticed my steps were iterative. I repeated them to help me focus on key aspects of composing or editing text. Such focus allowed me to stave off frustration. Moreover, I met my deadline.

 

While I do not recommend binge writing, sometimes it must happen. These steps helped me to focus when I was in a pinch. I hope they will do the same for you with two caveats in mind: 1. Start early, and 2. Quiet your inner critic.