Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Writing Epiphany

Yup--another one.
Why does it take me this amount of time every single novel to figure out that my writing process is tedious and messy? I try and push through that rough first draft ala the great Nora Roberts. Every single time I stall. Even if I know the next scene I stall. Because after writing the last ten scenes I have added notes and threads that I now know need to be worked into the plot from the beginning and my mind is divided between going back and starting over, or carrying on. That slows me down.
So rather than getting that first rough draft written, I have to constantly start back at the beginning and work through it. And because it is slow, because it feels like I'm wasting time and being inefficient, I punish myself terribly (it's only a mental whip-lashing, but a whip-lashing nonetheless). This only gets worse when I look at my calendar and calculate my time.
So what's to be done?
At the end of the day the question should always be 'are you writing the best book possible?' Not, 'can you write four of these babies a year?' Some people can do both (that darned Nora who must be watching over my shoulder today (but we all need heroes, right?)). I can't.  
When I'm consumed by a book I write pretty fast. I just need to learn to trust my instincts and do what needs to be done. Stop panicking, start enjoying the incredible privilege I have right now of writing novels. 

Who knows how long it will last?

Anyone else have a process they hate?


  1. Good for you for figuring it out! I too worry that my process is too messy and too tedious, but at the end of the day as long as I'm making progress toward the best book it can be that's all that matters.

  2. Great post!
    I have a love/hate relationship with not so much a process, but the idea stage. My brain starts work just before I drift off to sleep. If I don't get up right then and there, and write down my thoughts they are lost forever.

    I try to keep a note book in the bedroom when I'm actively working on something, but I am me, and I tend for forget things LOL

    I love that I get these wonderful ideas when my head is empty of all other things, but then I hate that I have to get up and write it all down or forget it. This usually means being up for a few more hours working through my thoughts and turning them into something less scattered LOL

  3. Alexa, I must be a slow learner b/c I know this but refuse to accept it :) But you are right, it is all about making it the best book it can be.

  4. Doris--me too! :) I have a pad of paper beside the bed, but then I bring it down to use my notes and forget to put it back. My bathroom Sudoku book is covered in scrawls :) Ideas are like magic :)

  5. I'm a slow writer. Even if the story and its characters are devouring huge chunks of creative geography in my brain...I'm slow. Largely because I'm a pantser. I've tried outlining, planning, etc., but I can't plan a story when there is no story, if that makes any sense. A blank page is too intimidating. Instead, I need to blunder on and write the scenes in my head and fix the mess as I go.

    It's not tidy. It's not efficient. It's me. Oh, well.

  6. Pat--I'm so glad I'm not alone. I do understand what you're saying about a blank page :) I'm a plotter though, which makes it interesting. Sometimes I think my first draft is just an elaborate plotting device

  7. Toni, this is fascinating! I never realized you and I had similar processes. I have a file called "don't forget" for each book I start, and I put in all those bits and pieces I need to go back and weave in. Funny, because you always struck me as the easy-flow type of writer. Obviously you just make it *look* easy! :-) What a great post!

  8. Kathy--easy flow?? Big grin. Err, no. But I don't believe in generally sharing my woes either. Ideas flow very easily but making them work is the tricky part. As you know :)