Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Things I Don't Do (But Sometimes Wish I Did)

I've been reading this awesome book called Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo.

It's a compilation of LOTS of interviews with amazing songwriters, such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Randy Newman, Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana, Dave Brubeck, Brian Wilson and on and on and on.

One thing I love about it is reading how different their writing processes are.

Some write every day.

Some don't.

Some write only when inspiration strikes.

Some force the writing.

Some write the whole song at once.

Some write part of it and let it stew for a while.

Some need total quiet.

Some write on tour buses or in hotel rooms.

So, that got me to thinking about writing PROCESS.

And I've come to the conclusion that.....different strokes for different folks.

There should be no RULES, because everybody is different.

So....here are the things I DON'T do, even though I've heard that I should:

1. I don't write every day. Some days I'm not inspired. Some days I'm in a school. Some days I'm watching Judge Judy reruns. But I've written 10 books, so I do, eventually, get the job done.

2. I don't outline. I would LOVE to outline. I'm a super organized person whose favorite possession is a label maker. But they just don't work for me. I develop the story as I'm writing.

3. I don't keep a writer's journal. I want to. So. Bad. I want to write really cool stuff like Linda Urban does. OMG. I LOVE her journals! I love reading how her thoughts and ideas turn into novels.

When I'm in schools, I want to tell students that I keep a writing journal. I want to tell them I carry a little notebook wherever I go. I've considered lying, but I'm a terrible liar. 

And I love journals. I buy lovely leather ones with handmade paper. And then I write stuff like, "Ate too many chips today. Dang it!" or "Got the cutest sweater on sale at Nordstrom! Yay me!" Maybe I'm just shallow like that. *shrugs* But journals just don't WORK for me. I journal in my head. Seriously.

4. I don't use color-coded Post-It Notes on the wall, rearranging them for plot and scenes and characters and all that stuff. I WANT to! Really bad. But that just doesn't work for me.

5. I don't create character sketches. I HATE them. You know the ones: What's your character's favorite vegetable? What does your character's bedroom look like? *Shudders* Before I put pen to paper, I know my characters really, really well. My characters tell my story for me (after a lot of prodding).  

But I know them in the context of the story. I don't give a rip what she has in her backpack or what her favorite ice cream flavor is - unless it has something to do with the story. I know my characters in the context of the story. That's all I need to know.

6. I don't write in airports or cafes or hotel rooms. Trust me. I've tried. I need a quiet, still, private, personal space. Just because. (Although I did write a great deal of Moonpie and Ivy on a train. It's never happened since.)

So what's my point?

My point is that you should do what works for you. 

Try some of the techniques other writers use. They might work for you. They might not.

Write on a train.

Write in a car.

Write in a bed.

Write in a bar.

Outline, journal, post-it, too.

Just do whatever works for you.

[My poem for the day.] 

BUT - there are some things that I do do that help me - coming in a later post.


Augusta Scattergood said...

Scrivener is the same as /better than arranging post-it notes, IMO>

Hart Johnson said...

Three cheers for everybody's different! I find some of my things I do come with me over time and others change book by book. Try stuff. If it helps, add it to the tool kit, if not, lesson learned.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Loved this and find it freeing to be reminded that I don't have to do all that plotting and rearranging and journal keeping.

I also know my characters in the context of the story although I don't always know them well before I start writing. I mostly let the story tell me who they are.

Wild About Words said...

Loved, loved, LOVED this post. Especially that you wrote 10 books doing it the way you do it. We each have our own processes. Can't wait for your next post . . . and book. :)

Beverley Baird said...

Loved your post and list of don'ts! Most would be on my list as well, altho I have tried most of them. We all have to end up doing what works for us.

Gita V. Reddy said...

Whatever works! I don't do most of what is listed on the list but I do give myself a daily word count target. It helps.

About characters. My characters are mostly changelings. Once they get a life of their own, they change and I let them.

Thanks for the interesting post.

Bobbie Pyron said...

I'm totally with ya, sistah! I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants kinda gal on the first draft. I've also found, after writing four novels, that my "process" has been different for each book. At first that worried me, but now, not so much.