First a reminder! A week from today is the Escape Reality book event at the Provo Library! Bree Despain, Elana Johnson, Jenn Johansson, and I will be talking, giving away prizes, and signing books. So if you can make it on July 9th at 7PM at the Provo Library, I *highly* recommend it. Should be a blast.
Also, I will be giving out five Pop Tart charms. These have been known to start riots, people.
Okay, on to the post!
After writing seriously for about 8 years, I'm quite familiar with my writing process. I'm a pantser. If you don't know what that means, it's basically the dive-into-a-book-blind method. My first drafts are messy and exploratory. I get a lot of things wrong but somehow manage to find the heart of the story. I tend to focus on plot and character in my drafting, and often have to go back to flesh out the world/setting. I always get stuck at the end of Act I. I flounder through the middle until it all clicks and then the ending finally reveals itself. My revisions are usually quite heavy.
I know these things. I can count on them happening every time I write a book.
And yet, sometimes I still wish I could have someone else's process.
Why yes, I get envious of writers who can outline their whole books and know exactly what they'll be writing that day. I wish I had that kind of organization and, more than that, characters who would cooperate. Because I've tried on more than one occasion to outline, and the story never follows it not ever once or even close.
Because I'm a pantser. Whether I want to be or not.
You'd think I'd know better than to resist my own writing process, but I think it's something all writers go through. Writing a book is hard. And I often think, "There has to be a better, faster, more efficient way to do this. There has to be." So I try to do something new that I think might make it easier, and instead it only makes it harder and I end up going back to what I usually do in the first place.
When I accept my process, things actually do go better. Not perfect, but the writing gets done. I don't know why I sometimes forget this—I forget it way too often.
I'm saying all this because for the last 6 freaking months I've been trying to write a book. I usually finish a first draft in about 3 months, so this has been maddening to know that I'm still not done. But looking back, I know why:
I haven't trusted my process.
I've tried to make my draft perfect. I thought I could do this through outlining, and my story resisted it at every turn. I thought if I planned out everything before I got there the writing would be easier, when in fact it just feels stale to me because the discovery process is gone. And because of these things, I've doubted myself and this story and my confidence is severely lacking—I have a hard time writing anything in that state.
Hindsight's 20/20, right? I wish it'd taken me less time to learn the lesson this year, but I think I'm finally getting it again. Much like you can never write a story like someone else, you can never have someone else's process, either. You have to do what works for you, and it may seem hard but really all the ways to write a book are hard in their own right.
Here's to hoping I listen to my own advice come next draft. Because I'd really like to NOT do this again for awhile.