Writing from Backstage

Lots of drafts and can't finish?

Actually I’m not backstage right now. I’m writing this tonight from the restaurant out the front of the theatre while I wait to do half-time special effects.

One more night to go of the show I’m doing the makeup for and WOW! It’s fun but tiring. Loving the steampunk costumes, so thought I’d share another photo. I wish you could hear how fantastic this powerful all-women cast sounds!

So grateful to have the rest of the arts back in action here in New Zealand. Thank goodness we can at least keep our writing-arts no matter what’s happening in the world.

I promised a good balance of creative and content help this year, so today let’s look at content.

Specifically what takes you from a hopeful content creator to a successful one.

I want to cover two things today that bring success:

  1. Quality

  2. Finishing

Boost your quality

I’m always surprised by the attitude some new content producers have around checking their work. Then again, I remember being the same.

I would write a draft and think, “Damn! That’s a great story!” and send it off to a publisher who promptly rejected it.

Let me tell you a secret: my first drafts are often rubbish. The secret to good writing is good rewriting!

That’s why I make a habit now of leaving my stories for a day or more. When I look back at them I see glaring errors, repeated phrases, dull wording…

If you can’t get a second opinion on your work (next week I’ll announce something that will help with this), then give yourself a fresh pair of eyes by leaving your work for a day.

My number one quality tip: In your rewriting, cut the introduction. Most of us waffle at the start before we get into the really good stuff. After you’ve left your draft for a day, ask yourself if you can cut the start.

  • Is there a better place to start further down? Would part of your conclusion be a better start?

  • Is there a story, anecdote, or interesting statement you could start with instead?


“I have so many drafts, but I just can’t finish any”

If this is you, you might have a structure problem. I know I talk about structure a lot, but it’s so important. It’s hard to know where to finish a story if you have no idea about where it’s heading.

For content, it’s easy! The structures are right under your nose.

  • Look at the publication you want to submit your story to.

  • Read some of the articles in that publication and notice their structure.

  • Often they will have an introduction (how long is it? Is it a personal story?), then there will be points with subheadings that back up the main point (do they incorporate research or back ideas with quotes?), and a conclusion.

  • All you need to do is borrow the structure.

Up coming plans!

Next week I have some exciting news about a new Medium Writer’s Community I’ve been planning with my coeditor, Ash Jurberg, at Inspired Writer.

Medium has just announced they will be focusing less on their big publications and more on individual writers. It’s a positive move and I’m optimistic about the impact of this shift on individuals, especially new writers.

Ash and I have cooked up something to help you get your Medium content up and running. More on that next week.

Support our writing family: Featured Writer

Today’s featured Academy writer, Bingz Huang, calls herself a Gentleness Ambassador which fits her writing style perfectly—her stories are full of gentle encouragement and support.

You can see for yourself with this one:

You Can Bridge The Gap Between The Magical and The Mundane

“How do I bridge the gap between what I dream of wanting and my current life?”

Head over and give her 50 claps and some encouragement with a comment. It always means a lot. I know it does for me.