Hours to Write a Paragraph

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I am working on my next devotional book, Watering Flowers in the Rain.  I am approximately 30 pages in.  Below is a paragraph I have revised  about 5 times this week.  After the paragraph, I explain why it sometimes takes me hours to write a few sentences.


Excerpt from Watering Flowers in the Rain:

It was the first time I had ever been frisked.   My husband was next.  Neither of us said anything.  Then about fifty of us were jammed into a small area where guards, holding semi-automatic weapons, stood above us on a balcony. I would call the area a room, but it didn’t have a ceiling.   At first, there were three walls, battleship gray.  Then the fourth wall, a steel door, came thundering down, “SHUMP!”  I really didn’t need that.  I was already nervous.


 Why does it sometimes take me days to write a paragraph?

1.  This particular paragraph is non-fiction, so it took me awhile to retrieve the details.  For me,  recollection is  the most difficult part of writing because it can be emotionally exhausting.   At first I do more thinking than writing, and I also do more thanking, thanking God I have moved away from a place I now only have to revisit for the purpose of writing.

2.  I read my paragraphs aloud several times.  Each time, I listen for the sound.  Writers are like musicians in that sense.  They have to have a good ear.  The rhythm and flow of the words have to be right.  That goes for poetry and prose.

3.  Lately I have been writing more non-fiction, so I have to make sure I am telling the truth about my thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of other people who are involved.  This sometimes takes a little research.  I have to make sure I am completely honest with my readers.  I cannot bend the truth to make the paragraph work.   I have to figure out an interesting way to convey the truth.  The truth has to work alone.

4.  I have to check my grammar.  This is often very tedious for me.  Sometimes  I don’t want to word a sentence correctly because it messes up my flow.  However, I have to remember that, unless it is dialogue, incorrect grammar is an eye sore to skilled readers.

5.  I need a break from the paragraph.  Sometimes the break is 24-hours.  If I sit hours on end, revising the same paragraph, my eyes get weak and my mind scatters.  If I take a long walk, dance, or even fold clothes, I focus better when I go back to the paragraph.  Breaks build up my mental stamina.

6.  I repeat the first five steps.

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7 Responses

  1. S. Kurz says:

    It’s so helpful to see how you approached this particular passage. I really want to try this process with my own writing!

  2. Shawn, I love your writing style.! I love the way you pull us in and make us a part of your story. I love the way you consider the reader when you’re writing! Non-fiction writing can be difficult because it will sometimes take us to an area we would rather forget. Thank you for remembering that there is someone somewhere who is waiting for your story because your story will help them to realize that what God has done for you, he will also do for them. Your words will water their flowers!

  3. Tanya says:

    Thank you Shawn! This post is a lesson in patience for me. I realize that due to limited time and a desire to post more frequently, I am not producing my best work. I understand even more now why I enjoy reading your material. Thanks again for sharing! Xoxo

    • shawnrjones says:

      I admire you for keeping a blog–an enjoyable blog at that!!! Blogs do not have to be perfect. I think it is a more informal style, right? I love your blogs just the way they are. Save your energy for your book. lol

      • Tanya says:

        Yes– my blog is informal. I am happy that you enjoy reading my posts; thanks so much for visiting and for commenting. Practice makes perfect, so I try to put quality time in each post. If I develop good writing habits now, when I begin my book, I will have a solid foundation to build on. Thanks again for your continued support and encouragement. :0)

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