Every time I write a book, I get about half way through and I start looking forward to the next book, when I’ll start out doing it right, and won’t run into whatever issue I’m having. There is seriously something inside me that thinks there’s some solid process out there that’s going to snap into place. And then the books will pretty much write themselves.
They never do!
I guess I should be glad that I don’t have the exact same problem every time (though if I did, I’d probably be able to fix it). What I really want is to be a planner, an outliner, a different kind of writer. It would be so nice to not be a quarter into the novel and questioning what it’s about and where it’s going.
But when I try to outline, it goes nowhere. When I try to write a “perfect” first draft, I’m so busy planning that it’s dry and no fun. And I don’t want to do it.
Some writers like to write and some like to have written. I like both. I’d rather skip over descriptions of people and places, but I’m so glad when they’re done. However, I absolutely love to write dialogue and action. I love angst and sex and difficult situations. I could write disjointed scenes all day long. But, eventually, they need to be connected together.
With every book, the process changes a little, as I try to manage both sides of my writing mind. I’m always learning something about myself as a writer. Does it make it easier?
I wish it did. But what it does provide me with is confidence. So far, I’ve managed to work my way through three books, so I know I can do a fourth, a fifth . . a tenth.
I haven’t given up on planning, but I’ve given up on the idea that my creativity can be leashed. I’m hoping that the more I study structure and other writing craft lessons, the more I can adopt organizing principles into my process. Will it work?
But it might get me a little closer to finding a process–loose as it might be–that will work for me. And, really, it’s also fun at times to stumble around and see what happens. What I have learned, and this has come from experience, is that when I’m writing myself into a ditch, it’s okay to stop the car and start again. Or hit the gas and see what happens. Maybe I’ll jump the ditch and end up on a much better road.
I hope you’ll come along with me.