There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
I've been asked several different times, "What is your writing method? Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?"
My writing method is simple, really. I just sit at my desk, make sure my favorite diet caffeinated beverage is at my side, make sure my beta fish is fed so he doesn't stare at me as though he wants to eat me (his bowl is on my desk...dang it, he's staring at me right now. See pic below), then I place my fingers on the key board and mumble inside my head, "Please, oh please, oh please!"
That is it. That is my whole writing process in a nutshell.
All of my books have been penned this way. I don't have one scrap of paper with a plot or idea or a character sketch written down. Not a one. For me, the idea of actually writing ANYTHING down on paper, or using the Scivener software to plan out my novel, just about gives me an anxiety attack. Extreme, I know, but I have no other way in which to explain it.
Okay, maybe I do. I would describe it like this: you know when you put your head under water and for the first little bit it ain't so bad? Then after a few seconds you're like, "I don't think I like this. I think I like air better. I want air. I REALLY want air. I NEED air! I need it soon! GIVE ME AIR! I think I'm dying!" That's kind of like the feeling I get when it comes to plotting and outlining a novel.
I've taken several writing courses where the push has been to outline. What's going to happen first? What will happen next? How is it going to end? What are your character arcs? If I'm being honest here, which I am, then this is usually the part of the class where I take a nap or draw a picture while everyone else is scribbling away.
Now don't get me wrong, I do have some basic ideas or story lines in my head before I begin. And then in between writing I do a LOT of daydreaming. Tons. I love daydreaming. Wait. What were we talking about? Just kidding. I think about my characters and about my story all of the time, but I never write anything down. You want to know why?
Because things change.
There have been so many times where I "think" I know where the story is going only to end up having a character do something RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of writing a scene that changes everything. She's pregnant? What the heck? I didn't see that coming! Cool. Or, as in the case of my current work in progress, Nuns with guns? That's awesome! Thank you muse!
Characters show up out of the blue, twists and turns happen that I didn't plan for, and the story takes on a life of its own. (See DESERT RICE, for example). So why in the world would I EVER want to change that? I don't. I won't. I can't. This writing by the seat of my pants works for me.
No, it's not perfect. Far from. I think because this is my method of writing, I tend to be a slow writer. I find myself swimming around in the writer's block abyss from time to time. But even knowing that sometimes there will be struggles, I still don't think I will ever try and write an outline. *shivers*
Writing, for me, is magic! Getting to see where the story is going as I write it is such an amazing feeling, one that I would never want to risk losing. Is it possible to plot and still experience magic? I'm sure other writers do, and I would never suggest that one method of writing is better than another (though I know many writers and one very stubborn/non-writer type husband that thinks there is). Do whatever works for you. If writing everything down on index cards works for you, then do it. If staring out a window is your thing, do it. If eating chocolate and drinking Pepsi is a must have (don't judge me), then go for it. Whatever process works for you to make sure you produce the best work YOU can, then do it.
Plot away and create binders of character sketches and arc outlines, go for it! But while you do that, I'm going to eat leftover Valentine's Day chocolate and stare out my window for a little bit. Then I'm going to try and kill some zombies in my book and see what happens from there.
So what is your process? What works for you? Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between? Leave a comment and let me know you stopped by.