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Sunday, July 19, 2009


So it's no secret that I love reading blogs about writing, especially those where writers, published or not, write about their process.

But I started to wonder, as I struggle through these two WIP*s that I am currently struggling through, (You see, the brain is mush. Yes, I could find a synonym for struggle, but that would be a pain......or a struggle. Dang, there it is again.), if my process is kind of weird.

No, I don't outline. When I start to write, it is often with only a title or the whisper of an idea. I don't know what is gong to happen. There is no road map. I just write and see where it goes. Mostly I write this way because it is tons of fun. (And, when I have too much of an idea or it is already too planned out in my head, I tend to freeze up. What if it's not as good as I imagine?) The only way I can really get stuff on the page is to just sit down and say to my self, "Well, self, let's just see where this goes today, shall we?"

About halfway through the project, I start to wonder/worry about structure and what I'm really going to do with all of this junk I have written. It is at this point that I ask myself questions about what kind of book it's going to be......? This is the hardest part for me.

This is the part that I am at right both books simultaneously. Sigh.

I often wonder if other writers, those who have more of a plan when they start, run into the same issues. Or how other people handle the middle....


*I am currently in the middle of a middle grade draft and a YA draft. In addition to being in the midst of 2 picture books and 4 easy readers. Variety helps me. Really


BJW said...

Great thoughts and questions. Middles are perhaps the toughest part of writing for me. I battle with perfectionism so much, that I was ordered to write an outline by an editor, to help combat that.

Though when I do use an outline, everything is flexible and diversions are welcome when they show up. Nothing is in stone.

Good to be back so I can follow your blog properly again.

storyqueen said...

An editor ordered you to outline?
(Did he/she make you do any other craaaazy things?)

No, really, I don't think outlining is really all that crazy. I have been known to write one after the first draft is finished, so I can see a map of what I've done.....get some direction about what I need to do. But I just can't really think that far ahead at the beginning. I'm like that guy in the Tour de France (Bradley Wiggins) who said something like , "How can I worry about what I'll do three days from now when there are two days before it?"

(My husband would be so proud that I'm quoting sports guys.....)

Welcome back!

Amy Baskin said...


Great blog! I plan on checking out your Knight series of picture books soon.

Thanks for checking out my blog. How did you hear about it? I'm guessing through "BJW" (Ben Watson)? If you do know Ben, or like me, you would like to one day, please check out my post today. Cheers!

Carrie Harris said...

I'm so happy to find another non-planner like me. I know a lot of plot planners, and they have all these binders and outlines and color-coded boards. On my last book, all 280-ish pages of it, I had a Post-it.

I'm not kidding.

Outlines only make me feel pressured, because the book ALWAYS takes a direction that I hadn't anticipated, but then I feel obligated to try to smash it into the outline because I worked so darned hard on it, and it's just lousy. That does mean that I hit the mid-book slump pretty hard, though, and I'm right there with you now. I took a short break from it so I could feel excited about it again. Hope you get to that point soon too!

storyqueen said...

A Post-it, Carrie? Wow. Usually, if it's a longer piece, I have at least some scribbled notes....not like real writing, but fake writing.

I allow myself a lot of fake writing when I work, because it takes the pressure off of the real writing. Sometimes the fake writing is good and it will worm its way into the real writing. Sometimes its bad, but that's okay because its fake.

Yeah.....I play mind games with myself.

Amy-thanks for coming by. Loved your interview! Great questions.