I have a bad habit. Well, I have many bad habits, but my biggest ‘writing’ bad habit is working on too many things at once. I write and write and write and then stop and start something else while working on that first project.
Yes, it is as tiring as it sounds. Like right now, I should be typing up a sci-fi short story, but I’m working away on this post. Why? Because I’m an idiot. Yes, ah no. Because I’m afraid that if I don’t work my butt off then the creative juices will dry up. It is much harder to tap the creative well, then it is to just clear aside the debris once in a while to keep the flow moving. Believe me I KNOW! I also have two novels waiting on some editing, one is with my husband for his copy edit and a friend is reading yet another and I am updating the edits as they both go along.
My drug of choice at this moment is coffee. I am out of chocolate and my husband drank all of the wine! Grrr. Anyway. I was talking to a writer friend about how he goes about starting a project, you know after the idea and research phase. He starts his work in a very structured and methodical way. Working with a plot structure, summary and writing the book from the front to back.
After I schooled my face into something that didn’t resemble complete shock and awe, I swore and said – ‘Really? Why doesn’t my brain work like that?’ Because I tried hard, really hard, and it doesn’t respond to structure at all. Also he works on one thing at a time! Crazy talk!
I’m one of those fly by the seat of your pants writers – to an extent. I write my way into a novel. I get my idea and skip the research stage and get the story out on paper. Then I go back and find any research I need – if any. It kind of just flows out of me, sometimes quicker than I can write. I love the panicked frenzy of a good chapter as I scribble it out onto the page. I also don’t write sequentially, not until I have about half a novel worth of chapters. I write the big events, the sweet moments, the sad bits and then I started from the beginning. Joining chapters together, bringing characters to life and making sure the twists and turns aren’t obvious. Writing this way also gives me a feel of the characters so that I can write a profile for them.
I know writers usually get the character profiles done at the beginning. But to me the characters are like new friends. They revel bits and pieces of themselves during the writing. I don’t know if this is ‘right’ but it works for me. Sometimes they surprise me and don’t turn out like I expected, but I don’t try and categorise them into good and bad characters. It’s their influences and past that shape them and I try not to get too deep into this until I see what they are like.
What is your writing process? Do you like to graph the plot points and make a plan? Or do you throw caution to the wind and do whatever feels good that day? If you write poetry, how do you go about it? I have zero idea and talent in this area.
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