The Method

Working on the new stuff…

So what’s a writer to do when the last novel is a wrap? Start a new one, naturally. And with that comes a list of to-do’s. Which means for all of you who thought writing was easy (I’m looking at you, person who asks writers when they’ll be done or says they’re going to work on their book after retiring to “relax”), you were wrong.

Every writer I know has some sort of method to the madness that ensues between the idea and the final edit, and I’m no different. Usually mine starts with telling my husband I’m working on something new, to which he rolls his eyes and let’s out a heavy sigh and rues the day I was ever introduced to the written word because it inevitably means I’m more or less mentally occupied for months at a time during what is normally “our shows” time. Such is the life of a writer’s spouse, I guess.

Once the proverbial dust settles, I grab my Zebra brand fine point steel pen, black ink only until the editing phase when I break out the blue, and a spiral notebook. Now, there are typically two camps in the writer world–the outliners and the pantsers (and for those who aren’t hip to the lingo, that’s someone who wings it from beginning to end without an outline to guide them.) I, myself, am an outliner who dabbles in pantsing. Which means I have a good outline (all handwritten with my old trusty steed…err…Zebra), but like to wing my sentences, so I have page upon page of random words I just feel the need to use–like effluvia–and half formed thoughts and partial sentences I like to go back and rearrange at different parts of the story, much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

A lot of writers out there are what I call “work writers.” They carve out specific hours to write, like a 9-5 job, place butt in chair, put pen to paper, and hack it out for that amount of time no matter what. I am no work writer. I’m a mother and a farmer’s wife first and foremost, and the nature of that beast is that schedules are non-existent and life is lived without expectations of what’s coming at any given time. I, my friends, am a serial opportunist. When the boys are napping, or eating, or are otherwise occupied sans the danger of the older trying to make a beanbag of the baby, I write. I’m blessed to have two little ones that allow moments of relative peace during the day to accomplish anything.

I say this all because like everyone else, I have a method. Maybe I’m a little neurotic, refusing to write my outlines, notes and first draft longhand in nothing but my Zebra pen. Maybe I could save time by using my laptop from the get-go instead of transferring everything by hand after the fact. And maybe I’m not as disciplined and the King’s and Koontz’s of the world, like many of my fellow authors. But I’m a firm believer that you have to find what works for you.

God made us each unique–we are far from carbon copies. So if you’re an aspiring writer (but let me say this–you don’t aspire to write, you just write and you become a writer!), don’t let someone else dictate your method. You do you as only you can. That’s how you were made. Own it.

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