I Am Not That Writer

This is the last post that I will share from my older blog. Originally posted in February but just as true today, this is probably one of my favorites. Happy Friday!

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 I would love to be the type of writer that meticulously plots and creates outlines before sitting down to write a single chapter. I would love to be the type of writer that fleshes out interesting characters with the aid of character sheets or questionnaires, knowing even the smallest detail like what my MC’s favorite food is. I know there are people in this world that don’t feel comfortable writing a single word until they know everything – beginning, middle, and end.

I am not that writer.

I would love to be the type of writer that can sit down and craft a compelling story without the aid of an outline or character sheets, the type of writer that pulls ideas seemingly from mid-air. I would love to be the type of writer that can start with a basic idea when I sit down to write chapter one and never finish typing until I get to ‘the end’.

I am not that writer.

I would love to be the type of writer that follows a specific writing schedule, adding a set 2,000 words to my work-in-process every morning until finally it is complete or typing away furiously for an hour or two per day until I tear myself away and attend to other tasks.

But guess what? I’m not that writer either.

So this probably the point of the blog post in which you’re asking, “Okay, Steph, are you sure that you’re even a writer?”

I wonder the same thing from time to time but since the voices in my head always bring me back to tell their stories whether I want to or not, I guess the answer is yes. Like it or not, I’m in this thing.

So, what kind of writer am I? I don’t plan and yet I can’t seem to get from start to finish without a plan. It makes you wonder how I ever manage to do anything at all, doesn’t it? Which came first – the chicken or the egg? The story or the plot? I guess when it comes to my own writing style, I am a strange hybrid of both.

First, I sit down and I write. I don’t know my characters and I have little to no idea of the plot. Basically, I have a scene in my head and by some strange compulsion, I won’t rest until I get it on paper. Sometimes I get so excited by my idea that I can’t stop writing and before I know it, I’ve racked up as many as 10,000 words over the course of a few days.

And then all of a sudden, I screech to a grinding halt…. My characters fall flat, DOA. The plot? It no longer makes sense. I could keep going but what’s the point? I forgot where I’m going and I know that I’ll have to go back and scratch probably 90% of what I’m writing. Nevertheless, like the fool that I am, I persevere and I’m rewarded by moments in the story that surprise even me but getting those moments is slow and arduous and I have to sift through a lot of doo doo to get them.

Then it’s time to take a huge step backward. I close the document and pick up pen and paper and yep, you guessed it. I start outlining! I do rough character sketches. I brainstorm possibilities and figure out a proper beginning, middle, and end. I make decisions about what I’ve written that I can use and what I can’t use. I fill out index cards for scenes. I take meticulous notes.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just start with the brainstorming and outline you ask me? Yes! It most certainly would but remember, I’m not that writer. As much as I would love to save myself all the time and effort by planning before I write, I can’t get a real feel for my story until I actually sit down and start writing it. But then, if I sit down and write, I can’t just keep going until I reach the end either. I get as far as I can until no more words come out.

Crazy and bizarre? Absolutely. But that’s just my style.

What’s your style?

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