(photo by Tabitha Bird)
"Working writers typically give themselves a lot of latitude in generating a first draft."
~ Ralph Keyes.
Liberate the Guilt
First drafts suck. No matter how much you preplanned, outlined, sketched or chiseled before you start the writing, the first draft will still suck. I have yet to hear from a writer who outlined till the cows came home and thus managed a perfect first draft. Even the demi god himself Stephen King goes back and edits his work. All mere mortals must write the Second Draft.
Yet if you read enough books on the craft of writing and listen to many authors you might be forgiven for thinking that outlining was ONE and ONLY true road to book salvation.
But what if you can't get it to work for you?
Then we have something in common. If, like me, you've been feeling guilty because you can't get outlining to work for you, if one size fits all doesn't fit, then this post is for you. I'ma liberate your guilt :)
Not One Size Fits All
Outlining is marvelous. Truly. I see the virtues. I am a convert. Except... it makes the cogs in my head freeze. Suddenly the character that I could hear so clearly says something like, "Oh well, if your going to spend three weeks outlining then, yawn, I'm gone!" And just like that I have no character and no ideas. Zip. Nothing. Nada.
Write Like You
It would appear that I need a combination of writing blindly and then plotting what I have written so I can see where the story is going. To keep the characters in my head cooperating with me I also need to tell them that no one else will ever read them. (yeah, lying to characters in your head is quite okay).
I also need to sneak up on my writing. When I sit at the computer those people in my head get nervous saying, "Oh crap, she's going to write about us! What if we don't do anything interesting today?"
So I sit at my computer for ten minutes ignoring my book and doing inane things like checking emails and the all important update of my facebook status in case the queen wants to know. (What? She might!)
Eventually the characters in my head relax and are actually thinking about doing some very intriguing things. If I'm quick I can get the word document opened before anyone (including me) panics.
What am I saying? I'm saying, write like you.
Need to drink a Coke and then pretend you are writing a novel to your mother in letter form?
Need to speak babble into a tape recorder until the story starts to grow and you can later transcribe it as a rough draft?
Need to complete a sketchy outline and then jump in at the end and write the story backwards?
Need to write a full outline after you have written, and write only after you have played with the dog?
You'll Get There Faster on Your Path.
There is more than one path to any destination. Everyone who walks without ceasing eventually gets there and when they do they are all holding a.... Rough Draft.
So it really doesn't matter how you arrived at it. Does it?
Outlines are wonderful things, but they are there to work for you. You are not there to work for an outline.
Oh, and writing is fun, right? :)
What about you? What works for you when it comes to generating writing or beginning a new book?