How I Write

How do I write?

Earlier this week, I shared about how I had found out that I was a discovery writer, about how freeing that was for me. So I thought that I would share a little about how the process looks like and works for me, especially now that I know what my strengths are.

So, before I found out what my writing style, this is what it would look like, especially the past month.

I would sit down, turn on my computer, and pull up my main novel and the fanfiction story that I was working on. I would then also pull up the outline that I had created for both. I’d skim over my outline, maybe changing a couple of words here and there, add a sentence to flesh out something that I’d thought of as I thought over while thinking of the story. And then I’d skim the last, oh, thousand words or so in order to spark the memory of where I’d left the scene. Once I was satisfied that I knew where I was and where I was going, I’d start a new paragraph. But this was a struggle. I’d write a sentence, maybe half a sentence, before going over and fiddling with my music, or checking my email, or facebook. Basically, anything to ignore the flashing cursor that appeared to be mocking me.

Meanwhile, I was inwardly very frustrated, even as I sought to distract myself. I knew where the story was going, what the characters were supposed to be doing, so why weren’t the words coming. I would return to the page and just stare at it, begging for my brain to produce something, anything. But the words simply wouldn’t come. So I would go and journal a little bit or work on a story that was ‘just for me’ and thus I didn’t care about it being perfect or well thought out. I would write anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand words on it and then move on for the day. I’d return to my novel, and still, absolutely nothing. Promising myself that I would get my goal finished tomorrow and make up for today as well. Then I would go and do my daily chores, wishing that I could’ve gotten more done. My frustration and self loathing grew. I am a writer, I have been writing all my life, people enjoy my writing, so why was storytelling so hard and unrewarding for me of late?

Then I learned my writing style. I’m a Discovery Gardener. This means that I have to discover the story alongside my characters. My world and self image of myself as a writer tipped on their side, but I was so tired of being frustrated that I was willing to give it a try. And to be honest, it just felt right.

So here’s how my writing looks like now.

First, I threw away all of my outlines. Every single one. I might’ve heard my characters cheering, but that might’ve just been me, lol. I gave myself 24 hours without writing to allow my brain to clear out and remove all the expectations and must haves. I didn’t HAVE to do anything but go along for the ride.

The next morning, I sat down nervously at the computer. Would this work? Or would it not? Still, I wouldn’t be any worse off than I was before and I would just need to keep looking to find what works for me. I pulled up my novel, the one that I’ve been stonewalled on for the past several months, that would be the best test after all. Having thrown all plans out of the window, I had no idea where it was going. So, taking a depth breath, I quickly skimmed the last paragraph (It wouldn’t do any good to start in a completely random place, lol). And then, I put my hands on the keyboard and started to write. And the words came! It wasn’t the painful task of trying to pull a story from someone. Instead, it was like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a friend and listening to what was going on with their life. It was almost like my character was relieved, like she was saying, ‘Finally! Now that you’re actually listening to me, here’s what happened.’

But not only was I writing again, I was happy. There was no stress, no hiding and avoiding, there were simply words telling the story. Finally, the story reached a natural pause, so I called it good for the day. I was satisfied with the progress that I had made. There were no grand revelations, no great progress, but my characters got to eat a very nice omelet and have an overdue discussion. Not what I expected, but it did move the story forward and gave me a bit more depth of my characters to work with. And it fit, it didn’t have to be forced into the story, it was just naturally part of it. And that’s when I knew, I had found my style and it worked for me.

So here’s what my writing routine looks like now. I sit down eager at my computer and pull up my writing site. I might have a story in mind for the day or I might be following wherever the wind takes me. Then I pull up my top 3-4 stories (Oh, who am I kidding, it’s more like 10-12, those plot bunnies can be vicious) and I skim through them until I find one that sparks my imagination. Then I write on that until I either hit the end of the chapter or reach the point where the story runs out for the moment. Then I’ll repeat the process, until I’ve easily written between 3-5k words on average. Are they all good words? No. Will they all be kept? Again, no. But they are there on the page and I always get to find out something new about my stories and characters.

There’s still a hint of frustration here and there, sometimes I really want to work on one story but another will hijack my attention entirely. And I’m sure that I will run into more roadblocks and obstacles that I currently have no idea exist. But I am happy once again and my stories are moving forward.

So find out what works for you and don’t let anyone tell you that there is a “right” or “wrong” way of doing things. Just do it “YOUR” way.

I would love to hear about your writing styles and routines, what frustrates you or brings you joy.

Happy Writing and Happy Wednesday!

We are strong together!

Inspiration/plotting

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Where do you draw inspiration from when you write?

For me, story ideas can happen literally anywhere, when I’m doing chores, watching t.v., reading, daydreaming, any time of the day or not. Some are fleeting, just a wisp of a story that is all to soon gone. Other times, it’s a fully fleshed out story that just needs me to put pen to paper.

So how do my ideas become stories? I have a rather lackadaisical approach to it, honestly.

Wisps

These are just pleasant little treats that I get throughout any given day. A snippet of a story about someone in a grocery story or another driver on the road. What the cat was thinking about while it attacked the other cat. They are as fleeting as soap bubbles and disappear as quickly as they appear.

Odds bobs

These are stories that are clearly part of a larger story. However, what larger story it is, I have no idea. The scene or chapter is fully there, but there is no context for the rest of the story. Why are these characters there, where do they go from here, what even brought this group together and why is this scene so important? I don’t have answers to any of these question. I will usually write this portion and tuck it away. Sometimes the rest of the story emerges, sometimes it doesn’t. If I’m stuck on my WIP (or procrastinating, I hate editing) I can peek at these and see if anything gets triggered.

Story seeds

Sometimes I have ideas bouncing around in my head for several days before I get around to writing them. This allows me to get the flavor of the story, if you will, and decide whether or not I want to actually write it. If an idea has stayed around for a few days, I will jot down the main points, character name, what they’re doing, the top few points in the story. If the story goes away at this point, the story is just a seed and needs to grow a bit more before it becomes a story in full bloom.

Stories

After jotting down the idea, if the story doesn’t go away, then it’s ready to be written. The characters are developed and ready to talk to me. I like to think of myself as someone taking dictation as the characters narrate their stories to me. When I sit down to write, I don’t have things entirely mapped out, as a matter of fact, outline hinders my creative process. When I sit down, I know who the characters are, the general direction I want the story to go, and three or four milestone or anchor moments. What do I mean by that? These are parts that are unchangeable parts of the story. These have to happen in order for the story to happen. They cannot be changed, they cannot be moved, or writer’s block will happen and I’ll have to retrace to see where I tried to force the characters to do something so out of character that they shut the entire production down. The rest of the story flows around these points and I learn new things about my characters all the time. For example, I didn’t know that the main male character in my series had siblings until book three. FYI, neither Aletta nor I were happy about him omitting that fact.

Plot Bunnies

These are the stories that are just distractions. Imagine a toddler hopped up on sugar running the household. That’s what these are, they detract from the main story and have no point. They are hard to spot, sometimes I can be writing what seems like a logical part of the story only to find that I’ve followed a plot bunny and written myself into a dead end. While not totally useless, they can give you ideas that you might not have considered before layering new depths into the story, they are very disruptive to flow and pacing.

So how do you get story ideas?

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