After a cancerous death, I appeared on Writing Excuses this week to groan and hold forth with the guys on writing second novels and second books in a series.
During the podcast I talked about my practice of debriefing after every writing project. A reader just asked what that was, and so I thought I’d explain it here.
The debrief is a simple thing. I learned it back when I worked as a business consultant. It always provides great insights. Sometimes it provides massive insights. The principle is to pull back and look at the big picture every once in a while. So here’s what I do. When I finish a project, I sit down and simply list out what I struggled with, what went well, and anything I learned. I list out things I’d do again that worked particularly well and things I’d do differently. This might be about craft or process. Sometimes I might take some time to reflect on the nature of story and read a favorite book about the craft or perform a story analysis on another movie or book. Then I write up my insights in a form that I can read later and know what the heck I’m talking about. This can take a few hours or a few days. This last debrief after draft 3 of CURSE coincided with my preparation for a day-long workshop I had agreed to give on story, and so the insights came thick and fast. I recommend the practice highly.