My Writing Process – Do I Even Have One?

A friend and a fellow writer told me the other day about obtaining Post-Its for use in her plotting process.  She suggested that I write down my plotting process, if I had one.  I do have one, but it’s hard to pin down and describe.

The best way to describe my method is pantsing with a minimal amount of plotting. I come up with an idea, play with it, stretch it here, compress it there.  Instead of scribbling it on paper, I do it all in my head.  When i have a rough mental list of scenes I want, I dive in and start writing.

That is exactly what I did for my latest project.  While I’m waiting for some feedback on my novel, I decided I’d write down some of the characters backstories.  Right now I’m not planning on publishing that, and just wanted a written reference on hand.  A couple of people have pointed out that the backstory could be a novel in and of itself.  This backstory was something that had been rattling in my head ever since I conceived of the character. So I opened a file and started typing merrily away.

It was going well.  I pounded out eight thousand words before grinding to a halt.  Something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on what.  I tried to force my way through this blockage.  Words were typed, but they were the wrong words.  Monday I had a toothbrush moment.  Followed immediately by a face-palm moment.

By rushing into writing without outlining, I had made mistakes that I cannot write my way out of.  I would have caught them much earlier if I had taken an evening to do some outlining.  Of those eight thousand words, I may be able to use roughly one-third to one-half.

So I have spent one night putting down most of an outline.  It’s not complete, and there are holes in it.  But it is more of a game plan than I had earlier.  And it taught me that despite how bright and shiny the idea is, I need to stop and do some prep work before I dive in, no matter how well I think I know what is going on.