On the Process of Writing

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

I have learned a few things about writing this past week. Things that will serve me well, not only in the process of writing, but in other areas of life as well. They are thigs that are best learned by experience, but I’ll tell you what they are anyway so that, should you see the warning signs, you’ll say “Aha!” and take the necessary steps that helped me. Or not. It’s up to you and I won’t judge.

The first thing I learned is that it IS possible to have Too Much coffee or tea. Your stomach will tell you when you’ve had Enough coffee or tea with the standard, “Ok, we’re full here.” Then it will notify you again when there has been More Than Enough. This is the “Ok, we’re really quite full here, you may have noticed by the sluggish discomfort.” This is a good time to back off and have some water in a little while, because at Too Much, I presume the stomach might tell you about it in more violent ways that involve loud vocalizations and emissions and one end, or another. I stopped at More Than Enough. While avoiding catastrophe, I did suffer with sluggish semi-paralysis and had to stop writing for the day. Three is now my maximum and, to cut down on fat from half and half and to curb my honey usage, I’m experimenting once again with vanilla soy milk. It’s rather good in Peet’s Masala Chai.

The second thing I learned happened when I got nervous while working on my manuscript. Feeling myself begin to flounder and staring down the “What HAVE You Gotten Yourself Into?” gun, I closed my text editor and browsed FaceBook. There I noticed mention that she was going to work on her synopsis. Susan is the reason I entered the scholarship competition in the first place. She’s an inspirational gal and, while I haven’t seen her in several weeks, she’s been a great cheerleader. She and I are both working to meet the deadline to submit our works for critique.

“A synopsis,” thinks I. “Great! Maybe I should take a break and do that. Ok, what are the basic guidelines…?” A quick search yields the answer. Three to twenty-two pages? …the average number of pages for a synopsis being five. It seemed a little overwhelming. “Ok,” thinks I. “How can we break this down? Make it more manageable? What are they looking for in the most basic format?” The synopsis, being a short hand version of the story used to sell your book to agents, editors, publishers and, eventually (one hopes) readers, can also serve as a road map when you write it part way through writing the story. It’s a bit like doing an outline, which I did before I sat down to write any of the story, but outlines feel so… rigid.

And then it hit me.

I decided to do a Who Is? list that would mention all of the important players and indicate why they were important in only the detail necessary. Eventually, it became a Who, What, When, Where? list and it’s 4 pages long. Well, 4 pages of 18pt Helvetica, so I can see it easily without picking it up from next to my keyboard.

Today, I printed it out and, with the print out next to the keyboard, I felt much more at ease. I now have direction, even if some parts are still a bit fuzzy. I now have a path to follow and I can break down the task into manageable bites by looking at the list and choosing a place in the story to work up to for that day. The goal is to break it all up in such a way that puts me at an end point with 2 days to spare so that I can go through the whole thing and tweak it a little before I send it off.

I have also learned that I need to schedule some doodling time in there. I love listening to music. I love doodling. Doodling can be done to music. I miss the music. Writing with music, or talk radio on works… not so much. Not for me anyway, and since I hope to make this a graphic novelette, there will need to be illustrations and comic pages. The music, well… Music soothes the savage Sue.

And speaking of music, my washing machine just sang to me, so remember! Easy on the coffee/tea, have a road map and goof around when needed.


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