I feel that this week’s blog needs to start with that thought, because it has been a defining one for me this week.
When comparing my two great passions in life, horses and writing, I once foolishly thought that horses would win every single time. My thinking went something like: I don’t have to write my stories to know how they end. Right…
Now in the past, I have been a firm advocate for writing your own way. Don’t write my way (why would you? It’s a recipe for insanity), don’t write the exact way Stephen King or J.K. Rowling write. Write the way that you feel most comfortable. If that is laboring over the proper placement of the furniture in a room for weeks before moving on with the dialogue, do that. If it is writing all the dialogue and then belatedly recalling that there should have been furniture, do that. Do what makes you feel free. There is simply no other way to write. We writers are both at liberty with our passion and controlled by it.
This week, it became “life and death” imperative that I be able to write. I felt a little like the Shining in my brain, and Thursday, on my way to my cellular biology exam, I was hit with blazing insight on just where my current story needed to go. Talk about terrible timing. However, I completed class, hurried home, and wrote until nearly midnight. That was therapeutic. Unfortunately, it left me a little too depleted the next day, and as the day wound down at work, I was increasingly out of sorts. I knew my cure, and that was to write, but as soon as I finished more requirements (i.e. stats homework), I was left with nothing. NOTHING. This rarely happens to me. Usually when it does, I’m okay with walking away for a day or so and letting my characters catch a breather as well. This time, though, I couldn’t. I NEEDED them to speak to me, to soothe me, to make me whole again.
Finally, after stepping away for half an hour, I realized that what I needed to do was step even further back. Sometimes I write very sequentially, Chapter 1 is directly followed by Chapter 2, etc. Other times, the plot twists and bits of dialogue come from all over the place. This would be one of those times. After finally taking the time to gather my thoughts, I decided that a session of story-boarding was in order. I did manage to glimpse a tiny snippet of conversation between my characters before they left me for the evening, so the night was not a complete waste for writing in general, but, more importantly, after writing down all the twists and points I am hoping to accomplish with this story, I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I might not have been able to charge on ahead at full speed last night, but I was able to plan where to go from here. It might have seemed like I was going backwards, but the path ahead is so much more clear because of it.
My advice then is simple: never assume one way is the right way to write. Play around with your own ideas until they work for YOU, not for famous authors or your friend who likes to blog. After all, we are not here to write for their amusement but for our own sanity.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
I hope that in my rambling way, I can empathize with my fellow writers out there who similarly share the agonies of a full time life and the passion for writing. It’s not a fun road to lead, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. As always, feel free to share your own thoughts on the matter. We writers are also solitary creatures, yet secretly desperate to know we are not alone.