Friday, 18 September 2009

Writing Lessons Learned

So. Yes. Once again, rather a long time between posts... what can I say? Life is hectic.

I haven't been writing very consistently of late - I'm noticing that my periods of blog-silence generally correlate rather neatly with the times when I'm not getting any writing done. Which makes sense, I suppose, since if I'm not writing, I have nothing writing-related to post about. And if I'm not making the time to write, I'd rather I wasn't making the time to write about not writing, if you see what I mean.

Anyway, despite the very small progress I've been making on the writing front, I have learned one or two things recently.

It really is easier if you write every day.
I know it's said all the time, but I'm seriously growing to recognise the truth of this. If I skip a few days, a week, a fortnight, then when I finally get round to actually sitting at the keyboard I've lost all sense of who my characters are and where they're supposed to be going. I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if I were writing short stories, but it isn't just the story itself that I lose track of - it's the actual writing. Words fit together much more easily if you're making it happen regularly.

If I plot, I have to plot every scene.
With the first novel I finished, it was pantsing all the way for me, until about 20K from the end when I hit a solid stone wall and found I had to figure out what was going to happen before carrying on. With this one, I actually plotted out the bare bones before I started. As I've gone along, I've found myself planning additional scenes - and having to plan them before I write them. Not intensively by any means, but if I don't have a sentence or two describing what needs to happen then I can't seem to write the scene. They've crept up on me, and developed from the story as I went along, but once they pop up they have to be plotted. I'm finding this rather baffling, since I've always considered myself a pantser or discovery writer. But when I realised a few days ago that there were two days in my story timeline that needed to be filled, I was incapable of writing another word until I'd figured out what had to be accomplished in that time and how I was going to do that. (I ended up with five extra scenes plotted.)

I need to be more flexible about my writing time.
One of the reasons I've been writing so little lately is that I'm travelling all the time. I like routine - I like being at home and being able to get up in the morning and shut myself in my little room that nobody else uses just to write. But when I'm staying with other people, I don't have my own little room. (I have somewhere to sleep, obviously, but since my husband sleeps later than I do as a rule it's not an ideal place to write in the morning. I need to try and make the time later in the day - perhaps in the evening - to creep away to a quiet corner of the house I'm staying at and write. Otherwise I keep coming back to that first problem and not writing for days.

In other news, I was delighted to learn recently that Will Write For Wine is returning to regular podcasting from October 9th. This is a fantastic show - thoroughly entertaining and always useful. There'll be a new podcast each month, and you can help influence what Lucy March and CJ Barry (AKA Lani Diane Rich and Samantha Graves) talk about by posting in the forums. I can't wait!