I subscribe to a bi-weekly newsletter written and distributed by Jill Jepson. In her last news publication, she wrote about the perceptions concerning the writing process.
Like Jill, I’ve been questioning the belief that writing should be done in a certain way. Not quite two months ago I wrote a post somewhat on the same lines as what I’m discussing here. Since then, my ponders have taken me to the atypical suggestions of what writing could be to an individual, more precisely, to me.
Although writing enters into all facets of life in today’s world, in its intrinsic nature, it is a form of art. As such, what kind of boundaries can it realistically have? Whose to judge how I should approach the process of writing?
All the formulas for the process that I’ve come across thus far are requiring a specific start point and usually follow a certain path. Why? Because having that outset and course allegedly works flawlessly for someone–most assuredly the person who advocates that particular formula at least.
I propose that a formula is not necessarily the right strategy, depending on the person, of course. When I took vision art classes, I was told to do a sketch before doing anything else. I never imagined that the advice was written in stone. Sometimes an artist must begin in the middle to achieve was s/he want to express. A writer shouldn’t be any different.
Systems or strategies are good, but only if they’re needed and serve the right purpose. Otherwise, I find them useless.
I’m an orderly person by nature. So much so that I wake up automatically by 6:15 no matter which day it is. I run my life by schedules. I don’t think I could ever really be spontaneous with my time. I know where the scissors are in the kitchen–if husband hasn’t used them recently. I know exactly where my pharmaceutical receipts are. Before I sit at the computer to do serious writing for the first session of a day, my bed is made.
Yes, I do begin my writing projects with the beginning of the story.
Yet, this doesn’t mean this is the one and only way writing should be done. Some authors start at the end. I see nothing wrong with this. Some writers don’t do preliminary work like development sheets, arcs, or general outlines until they’re done with the first draft. It sound reasonable to me. There are those who haven’t got a need for any of those sheets. More power to them.
I do my preliminary sheets as I write my first draft. The entirety of each character doesn’t start to emerge for me until I start putting him/her into situations. Scenes may start one way, but there’s a possibility that the environment changes because of what I see happening next.
I may be a true creator of habit and schedules, but when it come to writing, I need as much freedom as I can muster up.
Although what I write should be clearly understood, should how I arrived at the written work be all that apparent? Being a glutton for established rules, order, and schedules, I thought preciseness and directness were requirements in all things I do. Yet, the writing process is far from being an exact science so I finally discovered that how I get to the clear understanding doesn’t have to go along the straight the narrow.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” ( Edward Franklin Albee III)
The first time I heard this quote was in the movie Grumpy Old Men. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far to find the author of it. Reading it, I think of how a story is much more interesting if it shows what’s going on instead of telling. Telling can be a more lucid way to get the point across, but the enthusiasm and passion aren’t there. What a shame.
So how am I approaching the process of writing?
As some of you know, I lost the draft I was working on. I can’t bring myself to start that story all over again, at least not yet. So I created a new writing project. I’m still using yWriter, but I’m not bothering with chapters. I’m using scenes only during this rough draft. I’ve come to find out there are authors who have one scene per chapter anyway. With my story though, there will be a few chapters with two or three scenes. Still, until I get to the second time around with the draft, I’m sticking to this approach.
What is your approach to the writing process? Do you view writing in the same way an athletic prepares for the chosen sport? Are you spontaneous?
What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, “All Trivia,” Afterthoughts, 1931