Saturday, October 24, 2009

What Works.

You hear a lot of talk in author/writing circles about finding your voice. It's sort of an abstract, literary way of saying, be yourself. While I agree on the importance of voice, I think there should be equal discussion going on about finding your own rythm.

While voice may be summed up as "how do you write" rythm comes more from the angle of "how do you write well." Are you an outliner? A Panster? Those are the two I hear the most on the boards. Organized, detailed approach with tons of planning to your novel, or chaotic dive into uncharted waters? Any guesses where I fall in that?

Panster. What can I say? For one thing I don't have time to outline--I have children. For another, organization gives me hives. I spent a lot of years as an artist, folks. I ran through the halls with purple oil paint spattered across my forehead and didn't know or care. I painted standing in my living room for an hour and never could figure out how my ankle, or the ceiling, got black on it. Chaos, lovely, sweet, creativity freeing chaos. Sign me up.

So when my friend Michael came over for writing group one day, and announced that she'd found the ultimate, sure-fire, complete system for pre-planning and formulating your novel, to say I balked would be a gross understatement.
They had to drag me out from under the couch like a Labrador on the Fourth of July.

"Nooooooooooooooooo!" I squealed. My four year old laughed hysterically.

"Just look at them," My friend said. She slammed down a stack of forms onto my kitchen table that thunked louder than my last manuscript. I stared at the ceiling and shook my head.

"I don't want your bad medicine!"

"These are great."


"Just look at this one little form..."


Needless to say, she was a liitle bit miffed at me. I can understand that. She'd found something that worked for her. It did--for her. She wanted to share with me and I acted like my four year old at the doctor's office. Maybe worse. (I waited to sprinkle the table with salt and shout, "Demons Begone!" until after she'd left)

Order and I shall never be friends.


Okay, the point... We have a mutual friend who we adore, and who makes a "mild case of OCD into an art-form." She has always been a chronic, get a story idea write two pages and put it away forever, style writer. Now, Michael has shared her pile of demonic forms with her and the universe went supernova. She's outlined, she's plotted, she's formulated her scenes, her characters, her boxes and lines and check marks. She has a whole book now, she does. And I know that she's going to write it--probably like the wind. The forms, for her, were heaven sent.
Because we love her, this will be a beautiful thing to watch. I forgive the evil forms...almost.

Just keep em out of my house. ;-)

Humor aside, my rythm is not Michael's rythm, is not our Dear Emily's rythm. It's not yours. The key is to know, without a doubt, what works for you. That doesn't mean you can't try new things. (Here, I'll make you a copy of this one form...Nooooooooooooo) It's good to stretch now and then, but finding your unique, system of working, it also a glorious thing. Know thyself. Write on.

Sweet Chaos,



Lynn Andrade said...

I waffle back and forth between madness and minutia. You should see all my nice little plot points for this year's NaNo. All lined up and awaiting orders. I'm scared. :D

M.Baker said...

oh it wasn't quite that bad. Lol however I do agree that there are way to many forms I've simplifyed them to make order out of my own choas. :) I'm a free flow writer at my core and needed something to help make sence of it. anyway that is a good artical. take care hope you are all well.

jeanne said...

Delightful article. Of course, I'm a pantser. Are we in the minority? Joy is getting to know yourself.