On writing and my style

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Had a writing weekend.  It was planned, but the snow helped confirm it (stayed in, made chili).  Basically, during the week I don’t always have time to work on my creative writing other than an hour or two each night before bed, so I try to get in as much as I can when the weekends come around.  This past weekend, I worked alone on Saturday, and then had a friend over Sunday and did dueling laptops; her on the couch and me in the big comfy chair, each of us typing away at our respective projects.

I got to talking a bit about my writing style.  Sometimes I think I should add to that sentence ‘or lack thereof’.  What it boils down to is this: seat of my pants writing.  I’ve got an idea, I ponder it for a while, I think on it, I consider it, I tweak it in my mind, and then I sit down and just start typing.  This has, in the past, resulted in a massive amount of words being typed up and has also resulted in my hitting a brick wall shortly after starting that I can’t seem to get passed – like I write myself into a corner, look around and go, “Huh.  Shit.  How’d that happen?”  Usually it’s more of the former and less of the latter, which is a good thing, but still kinda strange I think when compared to other authors out there in the wide world.

From everything I’ve read, most writers make notes, they have outlines, they take a very sensible and pragmatic approach to what they intend to write.  I’ve tried this approach before and most of the time it just doesn’t work for me.  I guess I write in the moment, which has its own problems, believe me.  When I try to do it the ‘right way’, I tend to stare at the screen blankly or get caught up in ‘What’s the best way to create an outline’ and formatting and before you know it, I’ve spent all my time getting ready to write instead of actually writing.

Currently I’m working to finish ‘Sam Kane: A Novel of the New Universe’.  I’m 75K words in, give or take, and projecting to be around 100K when it’s finished.  I hit a brick wall recently when I realized that I had started several plotlines, introduced certain characters and then sort of forgot about them (yeah yeah, outlines would fix that – IT’S NOT WHAT I DO!).  That just wasn’t cutting it!  So, I spent the past few weeks rereading and reworking what I had, making it better, remembering what I’d intended to do, shifting things slightly and setting everything up for these next 30K or so words that will complete this novel.  (actually, I wrote two major sections a while back, out of sequence, just to get them out of my head and onto some paper (well, digital paper), so really, I have less to write than I think I do)

I admit, at one point, I just had to sit down and put some stuff down on paper to help me plot through to the end.  It worked well for me, but I did this probably half way through and not really to stay better organized, just to get it out of my head so I could move on with what I was working with at the time.  Normally, I write chronologically – chapter 1, chapter 2, etc and so on – I don’t jump around much.  In this instance, I had to leap forward beyond the events I was currently writing about because I was being distracted by the things I wanted to write, the things that I knew came much later on in the piece (I visualized two important events and was excited to write them).  So I did wrote those pieces and then I thought, “How do I get from where the story is now, to these two great scenes?”  Well, I plotted that out and it worked well, let me focus again and gave me some direction.

I don’t know if that’s similar to the outlines and plotting that others do or not.  I tell you what, I can’t sit down with my idea and do all the outlines and plotting and chapter thoughts beforehand – I will never get anything done.  I have to start writing.  I have to jump into the deep end and see where I end up, where the characters take me.  I think a part of me is fearful of being constrained by an outline.  A plot I can deal with, plots change, they can evolve as new ideas come to you through the creative process, but maybe, in my head, an outline is too strict.  Too much like college prep English.

I think most authors would be terrified by how I work.  But I can’t know for sure.  Maybe I’ll get to ask a bunch of em sometime.

~P