If you ask a writer how to write a novel, you’ll hear a dozen different answers. From note cards to outlines. I tried them all and each time I felt bogged down, stuck. In fact, I got lost in the quagmire of paper. I felt like I was preparing for a full-scale invasion rather than writing a story. I kept hearing the words, “Just get it down.” I didn’t understand what that meant until I did it.
Earlier this year I had an idea for a childrens story. I was already working ton three other projects, but each contained obstacles I didn’t seem to know how to overcome. I tired every trick and suggestion offered.
So, I decided to take an online ‘beginners’ writing course. I haven’t been to school in over 30 years, so getting back to the basics seems logical. This 12-week course, which ends on April 6, reminded me of something that I had forgotten. It was one of those hit yourself in the head moments. After all I used the process all the time for my Advertising and Design business.
I love it. Not only did I love the ability to just ramble on in writing, I was able to do in a week that I had not been able to complete in years. I finished my first draft. Granted it isn’t great, it has a lot of typos and desperately needs fleshing out and editing — but it is a complete story, beginning to end with climaxes and tender moments.
(I realize that rambling on in free writing isn’t the best way to write, but I expect the more I write the tighter my writing skills will become.)
MY PROBLEM: The problem I had when trying to write was being too structured. Expecting myself to have all the elements clear in my mind — every inch of the book. It was so stifling it was blocking my writers block.
This morning at 5am, I was writing furiously. Jimmy is hanging from a nose hair (literally) 30 feet above ground; writing, writing and mroe writing. And then, I stopped. Not because of “writers block” but because I had reached the end. I sat for a few moments and stared. I was in shock. I had done what I had failed to accomplish in over 15 years. I finished my first draft of my first book.
MY WRITING METHOD: I choose a scene and the free write until my brain falls out. If today the characters are having dinner in a restaurant, that is what I write about. Everything — especially if the restaurant is going to come into play later. Otherwise, I focus on the characters, conversation and injecting important elements (clues) to the storyline.
I have even come back to a scene to add an element that I chose to include later in the book.
No matter the outcome, I am proud of myself for completing a task I so longed to do. It had become an obsession. It wasn’t until Jimmy Jones entered the picture did the process feel smooth, right and fun (again).
Now the hard part (I am just thrilled to be at this point). What do I really think about editing? Bring it on, baby. Bring it on!