Every book I write is a journey. I climb into the car with these characters and I have some idea of the trip in mind. Sometimes that idea is our destination, sometimes it’s a time during the trip when we’re en route. Sometimes it’s just the type of transport we’re all taking (where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?!).
I try to have a map of some sort with me when I’m off and running, but the truth is, it’s not an instinctual thing for me. I’m one of those annoying pantsers people talk about. Actually, I shouldn’t say annoying, because the truly annoying ones are the ones who just sit down one day and hatch a fully-formed book out of their brains without so much as a scrap of napkin’s worth of notes. You guys make it look easy while the rest of us are dog-paddling to catch up.
But the truth in writing processes is that they’re as unique as fingerprints. And my particular writing process involves large swathes of me flying blind (on a rocket cycle! Props if you get that reference). I have struggled with this for years. Ever since I decided to pursue a professional writing career while staying at home with the kids (that’s a special kind of crazy, in case you’re wondering), I’ve always felt that I could be massively productive if I could just convince my brain to plot first, then write what I plotted.
So far, in the battle between my brain and me, the brain’s winning. It’s sneaky that way, and it doesn’t play fair. I’ve been in the trenches for so long, and I’ve been very cautious of waving the white flag, after all, what better double-cross to my ambitions would there be to have convinced myself that I’m a total pantser and I need long stretches of not-working in order to be productive. You can imagine the roomful of laughter at that notion if I pulled it out in any other business situation.
But maybe it’s time to throw up a white flag and accept my writing process for what it is. Let those stretches of not-working turn into something else…like working on something else. They’ve already been hard on me as stretches of beating myself up…