Wednesday, July 11, 2012
What Kind of Writer Are You?
You've got an idea. How do you start? Are you going to sit down, map out the plot in an outline? Are you going to do character sketches of your characters? Do you know exactly where you want your story/novel/book to go?
If you are like me, you get and idea and jot it down. Then you mull it over and think about how it could get from point A to point B. Finally you sit at your computer and you let the words tumble out. That's called seat of your pants writing.
I do this until I get out all the ideas I have related to my topic. Then I walk away. Sometimes just overnight other times for days or weeks. During that time whenever I have a minute and a scrap of paper I pose questions, answers and other ideas related to my subject. I will write on just about anything.
My first book Secrets started with a character sketch written on the back of a placemat in a restaurant while waiting for breakfast to be served. I created the character my entire book would be based on. It took three starts and over year to actually get it started and completed.
I often write on the back of placemats. I have been known to tear them up and leave behind things I don't need. Since my form of short hand is indecipherable to most I never worry that someone will get a hold of it and steal my idea. Best of luck to them if it makes any sense at all.
Sometimes I start with ideas and then get stuck. Those I put away. Sometimes I reread them and decide that they will never work.Sometimes they need research. Sometimes I laugh because they are totally off base. But I have them. Most are in a shoe box. Many are left over from high school and college and will never be published. Some of the ideas from then are feasible even if they need serious work.
What ever process you use, own it. I listened to a speaker once who creates a calendar an pencils in her start date, the words she logs in that day and maps out when she will be at each stage of her work. She has it down to when her editor will see the first draft to when it will get sent to her agent and then on to her publisher. That is too organized for this right brained person. I prefer flexibility.
I often treat my writing as a lover. There waiting when I am ready. Never complaining because I have neglected it. I always tell myself I will do better. I will write daily. It never happens unless I am deep into something or have a deadline that I need to meet.
Having read numerous authors and heard numerous speakers on the subject of how to write, I have learned it is an individual thing. There is no right way to write. Just like there is no perfect word count. Some of my chapters contain 2,000 words, some contain 7,000. They have any number of words in between. Most of my books run between 50,000 and 60,000 words. Does that mean I cannot write 80,000 or 100,000 words? No, it means I make sure my story has a beginning, middle, and end. Word count is a ball park. It's arbitrary. A 50,000 word novel is approximately 175 pages. Most of mine are over 200 pages. I must run over the 50,000 words. Oh, not an issue.
Take what works and make it yours. Write in a way that makes you comfortable with your characters and what they say and do. If it means going to a location go. I find I write best late in the evening when it is quiet. I also find that early in the morning is a quiet time. If I am on a deadline, I travel to my parents cottage on forty acres where the Internet does not work, nor does my cell phone. It is peaceful there and I can get a lot done. I found last winter while I was in South Carolina to be quiet. It is peaceful writing to the sound of the ocean. I was able to write at anytime of the day. If pulling your laptop into bed and writing like a fiend before starting your normal day works, great. Find the place, time, and spot that allows you uninterrupted time to do your writing.