Monday, September 13, 2010
The Ball Is In My Court
Turns out I do need a few more days to complete the planning work I have in progress. Last night I wrote 10k words in scene descriptions ... covering the first 25% of the novel. I'll need a few more days to finish these for sure! I could try to write less but I enjoy exploring the scenes and feel this is useful. I'm generating details I can draw from later. Better to sure up than leave to chance.
It's clear to me from all my planning work that the ball is in my court. It's up to me what to do with this story, how to do it, when to do it. I'm not on a power trip: I'm just realizing the power that I have to make decisions. I'm seeing clearly how the decisions I make play out and how it really does matter what decisions I make. I shape the writing experience for myself.
I've tried a mixture of approaches the past few years, and continue to try new avenues in search of the most productive and efficient ways to get my stories written. It's been a long haul and a massive amount of work, but I've made substantial progress and have learned a lot along the way, both what works for me and what doesn't. I've tested the boundaries, found how far I can go with some things, where the point of diminishing returns lies, and whether it's reasonable to gamble on certain strategies or not.
I need to stay true to myself, to do what works best for me. All the writing advice in the world is just that -- advice. The reality of my work as a writer is that it is an experience which I shape, which I must know well, for which I am responsible. It's up to me to pick and choose and develop the best way for me to get the job done. I have more courage now to rule in or out various strategies, perspectives and philosophies. I've tried things ... one should never make such hefty decisions without trying things. But with experience comes the right to make those decisions.
And always, I can try something new. Sometimes when I first try a new approach it doesn't seem to work. I'm smart enough to know that doesn't mean it's a bad idea: I just may not yet have figured out how to make it work. Too often we let our assumptions (and prejudices) guide us rather than clear the slate and try in earnest to understand something that may not come naturally or easily to us. Those who persevere may eventually find a way to make a new, worthwhile idea work and gain a substantial benefit (or learn more about why something is not for us).
I'm about to launch my first draft of my new WIP and I plan on writing it out of sequence, something I've never tried before. The basic rationale is this will force me to be cognizant of what I'm writing, to write with purpose, with forethought, with awareness, rather than from the seat of my pants. Even when I have planned substantially in the past before writing a draft, in the end it always comes down to developing a context, i.e., figuring it out as I go. This time I want to change that pattern, to force myself into a situation where I must know the story, and maintain continuity of the important details, a situation where writing is sharing what I know rather than learning the story as I go.
It will be interesting to see how this experiment pans out. I anticipate a very enlightening experience when I finally do read (and edit) my way through for the first time in sequence from beginning to end. This challenge is one I'm ready for, and doing it at this time makes sense in my ongoing development as a writer. Had I tried this a few years ago, it would probably not have taught me much of practical value. If this strategy works as I hope, it may become my new way of doing things.
Best wishes for your own strategizing, and may the risks you take prove worth it,