Method to My Madness

If you couldn’t tell, madness is my writing. Without it, I would go mad. With it, I am still driven nuts by the process of creating a story. A total oxymoron.  Over the years I have tried a variety of approaches to writing.

The sit-down-and-write-a-whole-book-at-once approach works best for me, however, is physically impossible.

Then there is the write-when-inspiration-hits method which means I sometimes go for many months before I feel like writing.

There is the “write daily” method, which makes me grind my teeth together  and causes my writing to lack any creativity whatsoever.

This is a conundrum since I am often between a rock and a hard place. What works for one person, may not work for another. There is no tried and true formula which works for everyone. Because of how difficult it is for writers to try and find their mojo, I share what works for me. I don’t do it because I think everyone should, I share because I’ve got bald patches (figuratively speaking) from the hairs I’ve pulled while trying to figure out how to write a novel. I share as I learn so that I’ll remember, and so that if you’re also struggling and want to try it, you can. Chances are you’ll make your own conglomeration of multiple methods to arrive at your very own formula.

This is what I have learned so far about my own method. I’ll have to name it because it feels sort of like a pet now.

  1. Must have coffee. I have tried to go without this elixir of the gods and find I simply cannot.
  2. I have my computer, a freewriting journal, and a favorite pen. If I can’t think of something to write for my story, I switch to my journal and write random junk until a little light bulb comes on. It always comes on, or at least provides me with something to incorporate into my story.
  3. Flexible outline. Creating my story outline sheet (which is under the writing resources tab) is the best thing I ever did for myself. There are only three or four questions, but because I can be ridiculously detail-oriented and still manage to miss the plot, this helps me get the broad stroke of the arc set in my mind.
  4. Listening to inspiration. I have to visualize my scenes and then narrate them as though it’s a movie trailer. Seriously. It’s how I roll. This takes a lot of energy though, and I know that it isn’t something I can maintain. I keep writing when I know where I want my story to go, but when I get those flashes of trailer reels in my brain, I write a lot. This is how I categorize my writing style.
  5. I break my story up into smaller chunks that I (not surprisingly) refer to as scenes. Perhaps everyone does this and I’m just late for dinner. I was thrilled when I could finally figure out the boundaries of what works for me though.  I’ve been forced into writing short stories by my classes and while I don’t like an enforced word count there’s a lot of merit to the exercise. I noticed my writing becomes tighter and flows much more smoothly. I have a bad habit of trying to relate everything that happens as though I were there. “He put down his briefcase, sat, sipped his tea and placed the cup back on the saucer.” This gets really old if it happens throughout the book. I couldn’t figure out how to get myself away from falling into that trap.

 I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I started picturing stories in increments. I was amazed at a couple of results. First I was able to write well, much better than my typical writing. Secondly, I had a lot more content flowing into my brain. I can only suppose that this happened because I wasn’t cluttering it up with stupid non-essentials that no one needs to know about. Essentially, picturing my books as a bunch of scenes strung together allowed me to relax and focus on a scene instead of the work as a whole. I was able to get a lot more accomplished that way.

I have a long way to go still, but I’m happy that I’ve at least found a method which helps me write better and maintain my creativity.  I don’t know if any of this will help you, but I sure hope it does. Keep experimenting though, and you’re sure to find a method that works well for you.

If you have any particular methods that you use, feel free to share so everyone can benefit (a.k.a steal your ideas).  🙂

Thanks everyone and have a stellar Monday! I’m sure that’s possible on some planet or other.

Scrawl Something

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