Managing Your Writing

Do you sometimes get lost in your own writing?

Do you consider your writing art?

If so, then this post is for you.

With the rapid changes in the publishing industry writers are being asked to become their own managers and publicists of their work.  So, I’ve decided to share with you a lesson on management based on Occam’s Razor.

Whose razor?

I guess the spelling is what confused you. It’s sometimes spelled Ockham after William of Ockham, the medieval philosopher (1287–1347) which if you have a few hours with nothing to do you can look him up here and study his theory. Actually, it might take longer if you need to brush up on the theory of probability:

P(E)=\sum_{x\in E} f(x)\,. Bearing in mind that the correctness of the formula depends on what E and x are and what the function f looks like. But I won’t get into that 🙂

For those of you who’d rather use your time napping – dreaming about those good old nap days in math class – then I’m offering this condensed version:

Keep things simple. Simple is best. 

Shave off unnecessary stuff because simpler explanations are better than complex explanations.

And in Ockham’s own words:  It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer.

It seems rather ironic that a theory whose purpose is to promote simplicity is so complicated. Just saying.

What does all this have to do with writing? For one thing,  Occam’s razor can help you measure how good the plot of your novel is. Or any novel (it doesn’t have to be your novel for the theory to work).

 Simple and logical plots are easier to explain in your elevator pitch.  The listener or reader is less likely to get lost or worse, toss your book in the slush pile. And you, the writer are less likely to get all muddled in trying to explain what your book is about. 

Of course simple does not exclude being profound, nor poetic, nor beautiful writing.

Here’s the management lesson I promised you at the beginning of the post.


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