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Friday, August 19, 2011

Being messy isn't always a bad thing

I've been talking about my writing woes a lot lately. I'd been in a seriously bad place. It's the first time I've ever been in a situation where I wanted to write so badly but just couldn't do it. I liked to blame it on silly things, like My Needy Friends and Sleeping, but in reality I just honestly had no clue how to go about writing anymore.

Everything I've written has been made in chronological order.* It's always bugged me to not write in order, like I'm cheating or something if I don't. So I really thought I was doing something crazy when I stepped out of my comfort zone and started writing a bunch of the scenes I'd been dying to get down in Juniper.

Let me tell you, it was the best thing ever.

It's like all that pent up energy I'd had stored just flooded out of me and into the story. All of the fun parts that I'd been agonizing over for so long were finally released, and it felt AMAZING. It was like a system shock that I was able to get so much down without wanting to cry my eyes out! I got through a scene without finding a jillion and two reasons to leave my seat! What is this black magic??

Honestly, it had never felt so good to write. I couldn't figure out why I'd never done this before, and how I could ever possibly think against it in the first place. But now that the craziness is over and I'm down from that high, I've realized what it was.

I was saving those scenes as a reward. As in, I have to get through all this crappy stuff first, and then I can write down this amazing scene. And then write some more crappy stuff until I get to that next amazing one as a reward. Rinse and repeat.

Obviously that wasn't working for me.

I don't know if this is just a thing specific to this project, or just to this situation. But writing all of what I did--the stuff I'd been looking forward to and planning to reward myself with--first, will only help me along. Not only do I now have some awesome scenes, I also have a higher word count and a story that much closer to being finished. My reward now is being able to get to a point where the scenes actually fit. I love them too much to leave them out, so now it's mandatory that I work through these ugly parts so I can link in the pretty ones.

Like I said, I don't know if this is a one-time thing or if it'll become a habit of mine, but I'm glad I ventured out and went through with it, or else I don't think I'd be any farther now than I was then. Writing is a tricky thing, and every story has its own way of releasing itself. I'm sure I'll have a few more times along the road where I'll have to change my process around to make it work, but I'm looking forward to those absolutely amazing times when I figure it out.

How do you guys write? Do you have a set way of doing things, or do you just go with the flow, however that may be?

*except for that one time i wrote a smexy scene, i couldn't really help myself that time


Julie G. said...

I force myself to slog through the boring stuff and save my "planned scenes" as a reward. ^^ It feels wrong to just skip over and do the fun stuff first.

Amelia said...

I've got two different types of scenes when they're in my head: the purely visual kind where it runs like a movie and I can't find the words for it; and the kind that are narrated as they happen, the words given to me. In the latter instance, I usually write it down because if I don't...I'll forget it.

I don't consider it writing ahead or cheating. If I've got the words in my head, I better get them down or else all that awesomeness is going to be lost and then no one is happy.

All these scenes that I write out are done on paper because I don't want to deal with organizing document files. For some reason I can keep better organized by writing them as they come in a notebook. I don't consider a notebook official. I consider it notes. I've got fully written scenes, plain lines of dialogue, and two word phrases of ideas. When I go to write that scene, I'll reference the scene I wrote in my notebook and I take all the good parts and nix or rewrite the crappy ones.

(Long, sorry.)

When I do go to write, I tend to write in chronological order.

Great topic! I never thought about it until now. :)


Aleeza said...

since i'm a total pantser, my first drafts are always HUGE messes. like, characters popping up outta nowhere, unexplained stuff going on, characters quoting dialogues said by other characters (which actually haven't even been said). in short: EPIC MESS.

but what helps me get through the tough parts is knowing that i have to finish this draft, even if it is crappy, because i can always edit it later! that helps me a lot, actually. editing FTW!