My writing is changing. By this I mean both my method and my output.
I started thinking about this a few weeks ago because I’m finding that I’m often uncomfortable when I sit down to write these days, and I admit I don’t like this. In the “old days” I was rarely uncomfortable. In the “old days” I knew where I needed a story to go, and I wrote the story. It was fairly simple. It was invigorating to come to the table and do my work. It was fun. I anticipated it. I like checking things off as I went. Creating a story was a big, complex To-Do list, and I’m an achievement kind of guy.
But since I’ve gotten back to serious word creation things are very different.
These days I’m not doing much plotting. Instead, I get a sense of where a story is going to start and then I’m just writing. There is no To-Do list now. I’m never _really_ sure where the story is going. Instead I’m just following the characters. I’m trusting the characters are going to do something interesting, and so far this hasn’t failed me.
Mechanically, this means actual word creation goes in cycles of being stuck and cycles of 15 and 30 minutes where I’m throwing words down literally as quickly as I can type them. I’m fairly sure I’ve had 30 minute stints where I’ve picked up 1,000 words–which is astronomical for me as I generally consider my capability to be about 1,000 words an hour. I’m also certain I’ve had 30 minute stints where I create nothing. So while the final output takes similar time scales, it’s all so very different.
I talked to Lisa about this yesterday.
She’s recently read each of the last three stories I’ve written, and had remarked about how different they were from most of my earlier stuff. She likes them better. I told her how the stories came about, how strange this was for me, and how I really like the way this is working in the end. But I also told her that it’s more than a bit awkward to come to the table without having a real undestanding of what I was going to write.
What this does is make writing a trust thing. It takes more guts. More fortitude.
Does that make sense?
In the old days I never really felt a need to trust myself. I knew what I was going to write. But now I admit to being a little scared when I sit down to write. I mean, what the hell am I going to do if nothing comes out? Truthfully, this is more than a little worrisome because I get in these long segements of my morning where nothing comes out–generally because I haven’t latched into the characters well. I find that if I’m tied to the character I can’t stop the words. But if I don’t have the character, I don’t have the words.
The story I’m writing now is coming out the same way.
Yesterday I got about about 8,000 words into the story and suddenly knew where it was going to end. So I wrote the ending scene while it was hot in my mind. This means I had a couple scenes to complete to knit my first 8K words to this end. So today I came to the table with an idea of what I was to write.
And the words came easy. It’s true. They did come easy.
But interestingly enough they feel mechanical. They weren’t as fun. I needed to connect the dots, and I connected the dots. But I didn’t feel as tied to the characters, and the truth is I don’t think the writing is nearly as good in these pages as it was in the first 8K words. I will go back to those passages, of course. It’s all first draft.
I’ll work on them again and I’ll make them as good as I can make them.
But today I’m thinking a lot about my process.
It’s all very interesting.