Tuesday, July 07, 2015

A counterintuitive way to write

With the everyday work stuff I’ve always got on my plate, it can be tough to grab time to write. Being a freelancer definitely has drawbacks since I basically have to take everything that comes in the door, or risk losing clients forever. Couple that with the fact that a lot of the work I do is time-sensitive, and it’s not a winning recipe for crafting a fine novel. And we’re not even talking about my musical endeavors here, folks.

The biggest drawback to writing is constantly having to withdraw from the creative process. When you have those excellent (and far too infrequent) days and everything is just flowing to the point that you can barely get it all down, to have to stop because revisions to a design job have just come in the door and the client only has an hour before a meeting at which the revisions are desperately needed, you just have to reluctantly put down your pen, change hats, and carry out their wishes – if you want to keep your client, that is.

So in a nutshell, life always seems to get in the way of my writing. I try to do some every morning when I get up, just to keep things moving forward and the juices flowing, but even that doesn’t always work.

The past week, though, I’ve tried changing things up a bit.

I’m trying out not writing linearly, instead jumping all over the place in my current novel-in-progress. Since I have a pretty good idea of most of the plot – except the climax and how that needs to be handled – I can just write a scene here and another one there. Most of what’s coming out seems to be the character development parts, mostly between my two protagonists as they get to know each other (and I get to know them). There’s no rhyme nor reason to what I’m doing and when I do get back to actually working on the novel as a through plot line again, I may not even use a lot of what I’ve been writing. It may no longer work, be necessary to the story or just not something readers would need to know. The point is I need to know it.

I sometimes use this approach when I find myself written into a corner. I just stop where I am and go on to some other point then begin writing there. I’ve found most of the time that while I’m working at point B, point A’s problems are percolating in the background and eventually sort themselves out.

I suppose the way I’m currently working is helping me get to know my characters (the good ‘uns and the bad ‘uns). It is also helping me try plot ideas on for size, to preflight them, as it were.

The main benefit is that the other demands on my time aren’t holding me back as much as they would be if I were working in a more normal fashion.

Needs must, I suppose.


Catsongea said...

I am not a writer, but that is what my freshman in college english teacher told me to do when writing an essay. Write paragraphs on the topic and eventually put them together, throwing away the ones that didn't fit. It worked for me better than anything else, but I sure hated throwing some of the paragraphs away...

Eileen Goudge said...

I hear you, Rick! A WIP is like meat in one sense: it needs to marinate to become tastier. And yes, life is always getting in the way. Sigh. In the words of Roseanna Roseannadanna, "It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another."

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks to both of you for commenting! Catsongea, that does sound like it would work. Fortunately, I was in music, so I didn't have a whole lot of essay writing to do once past my first or second year because the vast majority of courses I took were practical, but I wish someone had told me the technique you describe!

Eileen, love the Roseanna Roseannadanna quote! I am also firmly of the conviction that fiction needs to marinate to become its best. I also feel that characters need to get out and "socialize" with other characters to grow to their full potential. I've mentioned before that, being stuck on a plot point, I wrote a very long scene about something that happened to the troublesome character back in her youth. At the time, I had no idea why I started writing it, but it was as if she was telling me this story so I'd know how she would have responded twenty-some years later to the situation in which she found herself. It was a weird experience when I realized what was happening and why.

Donis Casey said...

I'm a big jumper-around, and like you I often have no idea why I start writing scenes that come to me with with force of a truck and seem to have little to do with the matter at hand. Almost always they turn out to have a lot to do with the matter at hand, if for no other reason than they add depth or tell me something about the character I didn't know.

Rick Blechta said...

Donis: Exactly!