Before joining the inner sanctum of the writer's circle, my knowledge on the ritualistic nature of writing equaled my expertise in building a flux capacitor for a DeLorean time machine.
Now, I know more. About writing, not time travel.
occurs sitting on the bed with the MacBook warming the tops of my
thighs. The desk—home to my favorite writing reference books—and a
straight-backed chair, collect dust. Two bookshelves house the remaining
collection of dictionaries and other books on craft. For late night
writing and a glass of wine, I sit in an oversized chair with my feet
atop the matching ottoman. But most of my writing happens elsewhere.
day job takes me away from the sanctuary of my room. Working outside of
my comfort zone pushed me to adapt. Thus, I write where I am. Scribing
can happen during the morning commute, between meetings, on a city
bench, on my lunch hour, on the plane, or in the hotel. Portability is
the key to my output, but it’s not optimal. If my train pulls into the
station mid-sentence, it’s left unfinished until I return to it. There’s
good and bad to mobile versatility.
I escaped the clutches of routine, but defining my writing process took me on an Eat, Pray, and Love, transcendental but agonizingly long journey.
Shopping for a writing technique is a lot like looking for a new pair of jeans.
You carry twenty pairs into a dressing room. One after another you slip
the jeans over your hips. Too small. You try again. Too tight. Again.
Too long. And again. Too much Spandex. Defeated, you blame yourself. What’s wrong with me, why can I find anything to fit?
Sound familiar? I tried on several established writing methods, read
books and blog posts on craft, made notes. The techniques I slipped on
were robust and worked for the creators of the process, but they didn’t
fit my creative style perfectly.
I attended workshops and
classes, met fellow writers. Several had successfully defined their
approach, others, like me, were still searching. Which technique should I use? Went
unanswered. Nothing I tried worked. Overloaded with information, none
helpful, my frustration and uncertainty mounted. No way I tried fit me
I gave up and went back to filling blank pages with
words. At one hundred thousand forty-seven words, in third person
limited, I finished the first draft of my novel. Eight or nine rewrites
later Nothing Is Lost In Loving, ninety-five thousand words, first person, present, hit the wire.
second novel came with less struggle, but my pursuit of a simple,
repeatable process remained out of reach. Desperate for a
semi-methodical approach to follow when I started my third book I
decided to cobbled together three disparate techniques, each tailored to
work for me. It’s a hybrid, a plus-size style that slides smoothly over
my hips. It works (worked).
I start by plotting out the story
using Aeon Timeline, which is an intuitive tool that allows me to create
and edit on the fly. After, I use screenwriting techniques to flush out
the story’s details, which requires more brain power and long walks.
Finally, I am ready to fast draft the novel a la NaNoWriMo. Two months
later, I have one hundred thousand words, give or take. It’s Brenda’s
How to Write a Draft in Two Months.
I recently finished the second edit of my latest novel, From LA to London. Lesson learned: my fast drafting technique needs tweaking. Every day I learn something new about writing. It’s an organic process.
Nothing is ever lost in learning unless it keeps the writer from the act of writing.