Thursday 21 April 2022

The joy of the writing process

 I love those moments when you are writing away and a character suddenly takes you by surprise by doing something totally unexpected that takes the story in a different direction. I had one of those moments yesterday in the adult novel I am currently working on. It has happened to me in the past when a character was getting very cross with me because I hadn't realised they were actually gay. Once I did they suddenly came to life and felt fully formed. 

This is why I love writing and probably why I am not very good at plotting because my writing takes me off in surprising directions. I would say I am more of a plantser. In that, I will know my beginning, my ending and maybe a few key scenes, but how I get there is going to be a revelation. As for my characters, they often evolve as I write. This can prove a major problem when publishers ask for a chapter breakdown because that is not really how I work. I will write one for them but I will tell the publisher it is written with a caveat that it may not be set in stone. I work on the basis that you have to trust your gut and if it feels right go with it. In the same way, if it doesn't feel right you cut it out.

Yesterday's incident was interesting because I had been worrying about how it was going to work with this character and where they were going to fit in. I had various scenarios in mind, but none of them felt quite right. Then the character actually wrote themself out of the story in a totally unexpected way, which solved all my concerns. It wasn't something I had even considered up until that point. I had seen them as a vital part of the onwards journey, but taking them out made more sense and the journey would still work with the other characters even without them. Characters are always powerful, they leave footprints on your heart as they find their route through your story.

I am used to writing for children and young adults and it has been quite interesting writing for adults. In a way, it has been rather liberating. This story started off as a middle-grade, but it was suggested to me that writing it as such was rather constraining and it would be better as an adult story. I have to say as I am writing it, I agree. Also, as a creative writing lecturer, it is always good to try all these different mediums so that I can share my experiences. 

Writing is important for me as it helps with my mental health. I always feel better if I am writing. I have tried different methods including setting word counts, sprints and using apps where I can create trees, but I don't find any of those work particularly well for me. I know they work very well for many others. Instead, I write when and for as long as I can without any pressure. I often find then I can churn the words out. What I always say to all my students and aspiring writers is that there is no write [sic] or wrong way to write. You have to find what works for you and most importantly, don't compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own journey. Just make sure you enjoy yours. 

Happy writing everyone!

I am loving the writing and production of the series The Split. It is very inspirational. This is some of the music from it by Olivia Broadfield

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