In chapters 8 and 9 in “Coaching Writers,” Clark and Fry outline the writing process: Idea > Report > Organize > Draft > Revise. Within that process, every writer has his or her own peculiar habits. Some of those habits are counterproductive. They are damaging techniques or methods that can hurt speed, accuracy or confidence. Clark and Fry call them “little dinosaurs.”
These “dinosaurs” are different from the harmless idiosyncrasies we discussed earlier. My need to have chapstick nearby doesn’t interfere with my writing. “Dinosaurs,” however, do interfere with our success as writers.
Most writers aren’t aware of and can’t identify their “little dinosaurs.” But if we analyze our own writing process, we can identify our dinosaurs and figure out either how to change them or how to work around them.
Maybe you get hung up in the idea phase; you have ideas for stories, but they are vague or unfocused. Or, maybe you get hung up on organizing your story; you have a great idea and have reported thoroughly, but can’t figure out how to order the information in your story.
Clark and Fry write: “If you get stuck, look for the problem one step earlier in the process.”
Reflect on your own writing process. What are your “little dinosaurs,” your harmful habits? Where in the process do you get hung up? Can you trace that hang-up to an earlier step in the process?