Saturday, August 1, 2009

Deadfalls and Snags, Writing About the Outdoors

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Hints for New Bloggers: Deadfalls, Snags, and Cliff Faces

Writing is a lot like hunting. You slog your way through swamps and morass, climb gumbo slick clay hills and razor sharp talus slides, you freeze your rear off and burn your shins, all to collect what is due you for the hard work. Patience, perseverance and opportunity have their payoffs.

Occasionally even after all the hard work, an elusive deer or a cagey turkey can give you the slip. Out of the corner of you eye you see a ghost flit by, and you know that was your trophy. What can you do? Head back to camp recollect yourself, go back out and do it again.

Have you ever sat in front of the keyboard with a great idea you wanted to share, only to find that the idea flits away like an autumn leaf? (Just like that eight point last year. Remember?) You know what it is that you want to say, where you want to go, but all of a sudden you lose the track. The scent, so to speak, just wafts away. What do you do?

If you’re like me you cuss like a sailor stuck on ship during liberty in Bangkok, and figure out something else to write about. Sometimes I can hold onto the thinnest of tendrils and drag the storyline kickin’ and screamin’ back into the synapses that lost it in the first place. Occasionally I’m at a dead loss. (Sort of like the time I fell asleep on the No. 7 from Manhattan to Flushing. Doesn’t happen to frequently mind you; when you’re as A.D.D. as I am, something else always pops up to distract you.)

“Ok, I have an idea what do I do now?”

I’m glad you asked.

Once the initial thought is roped and throttled into submission, you have to put it on paper. Create a starting point and work your way through the introduction first. Set the stage for what is to come. Think of it as a good bartender. He sets the mood and tone for the whole dining experience. I like to be somewhat witty. Usually I have to rework it a few times before it is even remotely amusing or even eye catching.

Usually if you can get through the introduction the rest just writes itself. If you are so excited that you just can’t put it into words, then just write down the action words that are moving you. You can always add nouns, pronouns, verbs, and the grammar stuff later!

But maybe your masterpiece has hit a dead end, or better said a bend in the road where you just can’t see what’s right around the corner. Your best bet is to approach the bend slowly and carefully. Who knows what might be waiting for you there! Coax the story out of the bend. Tell yourself the story then find the words to write it. Always be careful at this point, many people are misdiagnosed as crazy for mumbling to themselves, so try to keep it to an inner monologue.
You might have to bypass that area and go right to the end, and then backtrack your way to where you left off. I find that to be a particularly good way to outfox a cagey essay.

Sometimes you have the body of the story, and it's the introduction that eludes you. I know that feeling well. As I mentioned earlier, I try to be humorous. But you may be just as well served by introducing a fact related to your main story, or maybe even skipping to the end, and then telling the rest of the story!

One last thing. I have found that if I can let it sit a couple of days and come back to it, many times there are small things that I catch. Punctuation, clarity, or a turn of phrase come to me and really can make a difference. The scheduling function really helps, in that once you have the story set up for publishing, the pressure is off you. The work is in, you met the deadline, and now you can relax! You can come back to it at leisure and double check your work at liberty. I'm getting almost two days ahead now, and it really helps me get things in order, and turn out a better product.

After two years of blogging, these are some of the things I have learned. Remember that most of the time the story is already there. The hardest part is just getting it told!

Best regards,
Albert A Rasch

Related Links:
OBS Challenge: Preserve and Defend the Outdoors


GoGo said...

"(Sort of like the time I fell asleep on the No. 7 from Manhattan to Flushing. Doesn’t happen to frequently mind you; when you’re as A.D.D. as I am, something else always pops up to distract you.)"
..........But Albert, You're from North Bergen, New Jersey!!! LOL LOL


Albert A Rasch said...

That might have been so, but I worked in Sunnyside...

Anonymous said...

I know the draft option really comes in handy. I use it quite often going back to it and editing alot before I finally publish.

SimplyOutdoors said...

I always have at least a few days worth of posts setting in my "Saved Drafts" area; that way, if I need a day off or have some writer's block there are still a couple of posts sitting there to take the burden off me.

Plus, having the posts written ahead of time, just like you mentioned, allows you to come back to them a few days after initially writing them and allows you to see certain mistakes you might have made, or certain ways you could make a line more crisp or more clear.

This post was great for those people who have a hard time getting ideas off the ground, though, and proves to them that all of us go through the same struggles sometimes.

I think that going through a few stretches of writer's block makes our writing that much better as well.

One more tip: Whenever I have a thought pop into my head about a post, I automatically log in to my blogging software and put a few notes about it in a draft; then I won't forget!