Often the method of writing does not seem to be getting the job done at all. Even if I start out with that blank page of the first draft and begin to pound on the keyboard with gusto. I know that somewhere along the way, I will have to stop to do writing tasks that do not have the slightest appearance of getting the story written.
My favorite place to daydream is out on the cement of the car port looking out onto the deserted street. I have a lawn chair out there, I sit in with lazy posture. If the weather will not permit me to be out there, I am doing this activity in the back bedroom sitting on the bed staring out the window. The exercise does not, even remotely, feel like writing to me. Nevertheless, this is one of the key ways I come up with stories, characters, and locations for my tales.
This one I even have trouble calling “busy work”. To me, it is idleness. Still, I do spend time in this mode
Exploring the elements of the story that must be factual has gotten easier since the use of the internet. I do not have to drive to a library with spiral notebook in hand to collect the data I need. I just open my browser and type in the key words. Presto, a list of possible virtual locations of information are at my disposal.
Still, it does not feel like writing. Sure, many authors had stated the time in research is most definitely part of the writing process. Unless the story is pure fantasy, the locations, items, and other elements must be authentically right. As I scan the pages of the sites I have chosen to plunge into, I cannot help thinking what I am doing is busy work; that I am not getting any writing done. Yet, what I am doing is insuring more writing once I get to the Word document.
I am not a fan of outlines, never have been. I learned how to do them, of course, but I never did make good use of them. Instead, I have always taken notes, organizing them into categories of sorts. Once again, technology has accommodated me with OneNote, which allows me to color code and catalog notes to my heart’s content. [For those who think they might prefer Evernote, here’s the link.]
I do confess, using OneNote does feel a little productive, but not like the actual writing of the story does. After all, how much should I write about a character before putting the blasted person in the story? Be that as it may, if I have not created a three-dimensional character, in other words, a flat one, how can the story be any good? Some authors let things like this evolved on their own as they write the tale. I have done this myself. However, going back and reading that first draft, the characters and places were undeniably cardboard.
I have recently discovered the note taking, though beneficial, still does not get my mind wrapping around the main character as thoroughly as I think is needed. A blog friend of mine, Sharon Bonin-Pratt [Shari], starts her WiPs by exploring her character in depth. She will write page after page about the person before starting her story. When she told me this, I, at first, thought it was a little much. Still, I knew I was not done with my preliminary study of my character so I went searching for a better worksheet. I came up to the conclusion there was not one out there in cyber space to fit my needs. I make a template for Word [actually Word-like program]. It is a super simple page called Character in Prose. The rest of the page is bland. My only reason for creating this is my craving for organization. I am doing exactly what Shari does.
Although it is not writing the tale, itself, I do feel I am accomplishing something while using the unadorned layout.
The mere thought of revision puts me in a state of panic. This is probably the reason why I have decided to spend so much time on the preliminary work. My logic is if I spend the time organizing, sorting, and getting to know my main characters inside and out, there is not as much chance of having to literally do major changes, or even worse, rewriting the story after the first draft.
My spelling and grammar are atrocious. It was not always that way, though. Before the stroke, my spelling was fair and my grammar was exceptionally good. Brain injuries can easily put a damper on such skills. I rely heavily on Grammarly. Even with this assistance, I am digging into the style book on occasion.
I have not gotten as far as doing a rewrite yet. To be truthful, it might put me in a state of hysteria. Still, if I want the reader to like what I have written, the step is necessary. It is not busy work. I wish writing coaches and editors were free.
I hate busy work. Task lists, outlines of unusable material, and unending sorting drive me bonkers. I know it works for some people, but I am not one of them. The fewer the steps to stay on course, the better.
“Because, as we all know, it’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent than it is to do important things that are not urgent, like thinking. And it’s also easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.”
― John Cleese