Greetings to all in the virtualverse! I hope you came through the holidays unscathed and ten pounds heavier, just like me. The family had a great time and we even got us some snow, so all in all a wonderful experience.
Today I’m going to talk a bit about my experience with writing itself – the act of sitting at the keyboard clacking away. If you’ve perused the other sections of my site you’ll have seen that I mentioned my hectic life/work schedule. I have two day jobs and my home life is often inundated with helping my wife keep our…shall we say enthusiastic…children in line. Finding the time to write is often a challenge for me at this stage in life, something that’s especially frustrating when the gears are turning and all I want is a good few hours to dive into my head and just let the juices flow.
I consider myself a very “organic” writer. What I mean by this is that I don’t plan things out very much in advance, nor do I do any kind of formal outline except in rare circumstances. I often just let the story pour out and form itself as it goes. Sometimes I have basic ideas of what I want to happen, and if I feel the need I’ll put down a few bullet points in Word to keep the sequence of events clear to me, but otherwise it just builds and I make corrections later as I need to. Admittedly, this isn’t the most efficient way to craft a tale, but I find that for my particular style it gives me a much better feeling of my stories overall. I’m generally all about the feel of my stories…the emotional response that I have to them as a whole. If the work gets my blood pumping as a reader and gives me good chills, I know I’ve hit the mark.
In my earlier years this process was so organic that I couldn’t even do it on any kind of set schedule. If the gears weren’t turning, then nothing was going to get written, but once inspiration hit I had to get it out as quickly as possible. In addition, if anything happened to distract me, I was done. Sure, I could be as productive as possible while I rode the log down the waterfall, but if anything came by to interrupt my journey there was no way I could just get back on and continue where I left off.
This changed as life progressed and I found myself with less free time to spare for my moments of authorial enlightenment. I mentioned in the background page for Caeli that the story was written every day in twenty minute chunks, and to be honest I think this setup helped me immensely. Remember, the brain is akin to a muscle, and just like the rest of our bodies there is a kind of memory within the tissue. When we do actions repeatedly, the body remembers, performing the task more efficiently over time and even going so far as to save it as a kind of reflex. Surgeons have this with using a scalpel, and authors have this with the way in which we write.
If you find yourself having trouble getting into the groove consistently when you sit in front of the keyboard, try this as an experiment: Set a timer and give yourself only a small window in which to produce something, say thirty minutes. Dedicate yourself to this time frame – even if you feel the motivation to go on, don’t. Stop yourself, and then pick up where you left off the next time. You very well may find that in no time at all you are producing much tighter narrative, without the need to “warm up the engine”, so to speak.