We have all heard of the perfect storm – that set of circumstances that align to create either a cataclysmic event or a miraculous blessing. So it has been with my attempt at writing. I have been the recipient of a perfect storm of advice!
The thought of writing fiction first came to me as a story concept, an idea that I felt could be beneficial to those who might read it. As this idea bounced around in my head, NANO 2016 arrived. For the uninitiated, NANO is an acceptable moniker for National Novel Writing Month, also known as NanoWrimo (More information is available here). So, off I ran to write my first 50,000 words! 30,000 words later, I was looking at a categorical mess.
Authors divide themselves into two broad categories when it comes to the writing process: Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters plan everything out before they start. They outline their plot, prepare their characters, develop their locations, etc. Pantsers? Well, they write by the seat of their pants. A blank page is simply an empty canvas and off they go.
I thought I had planned the story, but I hadn’t. The deeper I got, the more of a mess I had on my hands. So, I did what any over-educated person would do, I went in search of help and I found plenty.
It was very similar to what a person might find if they were examining Christianity without ever having been inside a church. A mind-numbing amount of information was available. But what was ‘good’ and what was ‘bad’? What is the ‘right way’ to do this writing thing?
After months of reading, listening, and watching, I have come to the conclusion that there is no ‘right way’. There is only the way that works for the individual author. So, I was forced to ask myself: What was MY right way?
That question is still open. In fact, many of the professionals I’ve read and listened to feel the same, which was a great comfort. But here is what I’ve learned thus far.
PLOTTING – I’m much more of a plotter than a pantser. But I have come to see the value in simply writing for writing’s sake. It keeps the mind sharp and the story fresh and open.
NANOWRIMO – Thirty days of writing does not create a novel! It was certainly challenging but the best part was the ability to make writing friends within my local community. We still get together to write and share. We even do that virtually, which is great for those who can’t be in the moment.
WRITING vs. EDITING – I have found that I read backwards too much. That might sound odd for a non-writer, but what it means is that I find myself rereading what I just wrote and correcting spelling and grammar whenever I pause. This habit causes me to slow down the process. I’m training myself to not edit until I’ve written a larger chunk than just one sentence. For example, I just paused and found three errors in the above paragraph. I think I’ll fix them now…there.
Anyway, that is what I’ve come to for now. For those who care, the novel is in the science fiction genre and I hope to have the first draft done by August of 2017. Keep me accountable!
Blessings – M