Welcome to this month’s post on the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog. I’m not actually here. I’m camping and as I set up this post, I’m also praying for that Mother Nature cooperates and that summer weather finally arrives– and by that I mean hot sunny days and warm romantic nights, minus rain, wind, and thunderstorms! Is it really too much to ask? I will check out the other blogs from today and comment when I get home.
This month’s Optional Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
As I sit here staring at the blank page, I realize that, for me, the answer is simple. I’ve learned to believe in myself and my process. My Harvester Series published last year and the other nineteen novels published to date are perfect examples of that. If I didn’t have faith in what I was doing, nothing would’ve been written.
I’m a rule breaker. My writing style defies the rules preached by almost all writers, rules I preached myself as an English teacher, and yet it works for me. We are not all cookie cutter copies of the perfect writer. It takes time to hone our skills, perfect our art, but we work at it. When I first started writing, I tried to follow all of the writing guidelines from established writers like Stephen King and James Patterson, but everything I tried to do fell flat.
For decades I had taught the writing process but it didn’t work for me: Brainstorm, Outline, Rough Draft, Edit, Edit, edit, Final Draft. I tried to develop a plot outline, write character sketches, create a synopsis for the story i planned, do a Goals and Motivation sheet for my main characters, but it was all a bust. Then, i did what I’m not supposed to do. I wrote a sentence. I reread it and edited it into a paragraph, and edited that paragraph into another until I had a chapter. And that worked!
I’m a pantser, but what I’d call a bricklaying one. I write in layers. One sentence evolves into two, three, a thousand or more. When I finish one chapter, I go through it again. As the story grows, I let the characters tell me where it’s going. Every so often, I stop moving ahead and go back to the beginning making sure everything, every clue, every character is still on the same page. When I finish the story, I go back once more and check that everything is as it should be. Yes, I edit as I go and then edit again and again. Have I ever lost words? Of course. Whole chapters, especially at the beginning which my editor pointed out to me, that as much as I liked them, they didn’t advance the plot.
Have I tried writing without editing? Yes, but I simply can’t do it. I need to see the story as I go along. I can’t just write and then keep going. Is it a flaw? Maybe, but despite all evidence and advice to the contrary, it works for me. The one thing I learned was to believe in myself and my process.
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