In the first part we talked about scheduling and making sure you had the time to make a go of writing. Setting aside the time and making it routine is the very foundation of being a writer, and eventually a paid author. But its only one piece of a puzzle. If you sit down in front of a keyboard you are coming at it with the goal of writing. Most of us who think if writing have tons of ideas, and when we look at a blank piece of paper we want to flesh out this idea. And the first time its simple to create a world from this idea that exists in our minds. But attacking it day after day some of us might find that the going gets tougher. Maybe there are pieces you haven’t really thought about. Maybe there is fragility to it that you hadn’t considered. Maybe looking at the daunting task of finishing your novel becomes so much to bare. No matter what happens the end result is you stop writing.
The truth is, as though there are many people who swear off outlining or planning out the attack on a new project, I find it’s the one thing that can keep me coming back into the alcove of time that I’ve sectioned off for my writing. Spending time figuring out how my idea comes together means I understand my idea. If I get stuck, or I have written myself into a wall there’s always a way out. Because I’ve put my story concept to the test and I know it works now. So how do we test our idea? How do we formulate a way to figure things out that works for us in our own unique way of writing. As always I do my best to paint broadstrokes. But I’m subjected to my own experiences and what works for me. Not everything is set up for everyone, but I hope I can help a little bit. Let’s continue shall we?
Anyone who has ever talked to me or read this blog, are well acquainted with my love of ‘sketching’ to test an idea. When an idea hits its usually just that a single glimmer of light with only a pinhole of clarity– that we seek to think about to develop and nurture into a tangible world, and eventually a journey. I don’t believe anyone has ever thought up a complete idea out of the blue. An idea is but a single thought that through work, mental process, and passion can bloom into beautiful art. A story is the same exact thing. Its only the way we approach the crafting of an idea from artist to artist that makes us unique.
Whenever an idea hits me– its usually a single facet. An interesting idea or concept that blooms into the motivation of a character, or a tangible change in the fabric of the world we know that spawns a world in my mind. For everyone I elect its different, as to how this idea manifests to story but the end result always occurs, an interesting idea that forms into a story we want to write. I won’t pretend to imagine how these ideas manifest or grow inside us until we have to put it down on paper– the important part is that drive to put it down on paper. The missing middle period is different for each but I like to call “incubation” but how we go from point A to point B I’d imagine is as different as people are.
Its when that idea feels like its birthed into something that we go from a neat concept to a story in the making and its at that point that we decide to move forward and create something. That’s when its time for us to get to work. And our first inclination is to start writing the story. I use to be the same way, until I realized I was jumping ahead to far.
This idea you have, even though you are ready to write it might not seem so fragile when you first start writing, but eventually unless your story is rather simple you might start seeing cracks occur. And for some of us that is off putting, as it feels like we’ve wasted time and now we have to start over… or better yet give up. My answer was to write down my ideas as they are in my head. I have a character or a few characters, I will write about who these people are. I have a world, I will write about this world as far as the history, status, economy and technology goes. This is my first step in developing. And one thing I will find is more ideas about this one muse will begin to flow. Soon I’ve created a tapestry and one I can use as foundation to continue my journey. Where once I had a central character… now I know where he lives. Where once I had a magical world of dragons, I now have kings, and warriors and dynasty.
This is what I refer to as sketching (though I do actually draw things out not everyone does its different from everyone). It’s the first step for me. And I usually write out all the corresponding ideas that arise from this first sketch. And it builds my idea for me and it allows me to get a better idea for what is to come next. It gives me an opening , because before I know it I understand this story. I understand what needs to happen to make things work out. It gives me the beat to move on. And it allows me to have the lifeblood of making my story work. For me the next step is to outline and put all these things in line. Of course you might hate outlining completely.
Despite your nature as a writer, I do feel that exploring your idea and testing it can keep you moving. You’ve spent time with these characters and it excites. And when you do find yourself in a hole you have all this beautiful work you can always go back to, to figure out how the cogs work.