There’s method in my madness

Knowing that I distract too easily, I spent today cleaning up odds and ends in preparation for getting back to writing.

I say “getting back to” because after writing three chapters in one day, I haven’t written a word since.

Like a starving woman, I’ve been fueling up on workshops and discussions. I attended the fabulous Kitchen Table Workshop led by Marjorie Hudson. Her encouragement and advice got me back on course, and I have a much better idea of how to proceed.

Then I went to The Charlotte Observer’s event, Authors for the Holidays. Books, books, books, and some of my favorite authors to chat with before attending the panel discussion with Kathy Reichs  and Jason Mott, among others. Reichs is the author of the acclaimed forensic series featuring Tempe Brennen and on which the TV series “Bones” is based. Mott’s book, “The Returned” was adapted by Brad Pitt’s production company and we know it as the TV show, “Resurrection.”

What I learned: Mott’s idea came from a vivid dream about his late mother that he could not shake off. So he had to write it down. And that’s one place ideas come from.

And Reichs doesn’t allow herself to wait for the muse to strike. Any time she has free to write (and with a full-time job, that time is limited) she puts her butt in a chair and writes.

I know, I know. But one other thing that I read really struck home with me. Kristen Ashley, author of a gazillion books wrote this in an article: “I don’t do any prewriting and have no clue where the story is going to go when I start it. I just follow along for the ride. My books play out like movies in my head, and I just write down what I see and hear.”

Instant recognition. At last I have “met” an author who works exactly as I do! For the past weeks my story has been playing in my mind like an old-timey Bell and Howell projector.

I am nearly to the point of sitting down and writing. I’m pretty sure if I start writing — or rather, continue with Chapter Four — the words will come easily because I have already “written” it in my head. I think I was stymied because I wasn’t writing the “correct” way, that is, writing down all my information in an outline before starting, doing a “cheat sheet” for each character, etc. I really tried to do this, and I think that is why I stopped writing.

What I’ve learned is that everyone has his or her own way of getting the story on paper.  I won’t succeed by copying a method just because a favorite author uses it. I need to use the method that works for me.

So I’m giving myself permission to write my way, which includes taking time to let everything spin around in my brain until I’m ready to let it out.








2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen Pollard
    Dec 08, 2014 @ 02:12:53

    You should absolutely do what suits you best, Sandy! It can be unnerving to hear successful writers talk about all that plotting and planning … but if that doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t!
    I’m like you, I think … a few ideas swirl around in my head and as long as I can find an obvious starting point, I’m much happier to just let the characters do their own thing!


  2. CristineGzr
    Dec 08, 2014 @ 08:54:12

    I can not work/write if the house is a disaster, not because I am a neat-freak but because I will be looking for a diversion. I also try the tips I learn from other authors but if it doesn’t work for me I drop it pretty fast. I still manage to find a few that work for me.
    One thing I learned writing poetry was I need a little unconscious brewing time for my literary tea -or a good’s night sleep. I know a few scientists who went to bed with unsurmountable problems and woke with an elegant solution. I often find my characters work in my sleep and dreams.
    The trouble for me is knowing when the tea is ready and get back to work. Keeping my butt in the chair whenever possible helps. I also leave chapters empty with a few key words, so if I am overwhelmed with grief or jealousy I find a chapter where I can explore the feelings… Hopefully, this will all work for me someday soon!


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