Thursday, August 4, 2011

a setback. a breakthrough. or: why naps are necessary.

i don't usually outline. typically, i know the beginning and the end, and maybe some of the big events along the way. but all the little details in between that really make the story a story? yeah, i just let those happen naturally. the characters will tell me where to go. i find if i try to get all bossypants with them, they start giving me the silent treatment. there isn't much worse than that.

however, with my current project--what i've begun calling the Fancy and Whimsical Novel (or: FaWN, which is also fancy and whimsical. I'M SO META) in my head? the backstory is pretty involved, so i figured there was no way around it. i HAD to have some kind of outline in order to keep everything straight.

turns out that was probably not the best idea for me. i'm a little... obsessive, you might say? i get hung up on little details. a need to make everything symmetrical and even. to have all the puzzle pieces fit together perfectly. the outline became my everest. i was going to get it right if it was the last thing i did. i spent so much time on the damn thing, got so hung up on this one detail i didn't have completely defined in my head yet, that i STOPPED WRITING COMPLETELY.

i couldn't stop obsessing about THAT ONE THING. HOWWWWW was i going to make it work? maybe this way? no. this? uh uh. thisssssssssssssssssssssss? GODDAMNIT. NO.

so a few days ago i got so tired with the perpetual rending of my garments and gnashing of my teeth that i decided to take a break from it. give it a few days to percolate. i set my laptop (gently, lovingly) aside and curled up to sob nap.

and while i napped, not only did my brains unravel the complex mystery that was FaWN's backstory all by itself, but worked out the plot to the story i'd originally planned to write. so then i had not one BUT TWO characters knocking around in my head, each the antithesis of the other.

sophie's choice, yo.

i started thinking maybe it meant i lacked focus. that i wasn't cut out write either one of them. do real writers have these problems? did any of them sit there in front of their computers, struggling to decide what to write with what amounted to a girlie cage fight happening inside their head? (it's not as hot as it sounds, guys.)

probably not, i decided. with a long suffering sigh. i am le suck.

and then i told myself to shut, front door and just start writing. see what happened. and i wrote about five thousand words in four hours. i don't know if that's good, bad or just mediocre on the real author scale, but on mine? it's pretty effing amazing.

new plan. new energy. clear eyes, clear head.

and no outline.
never again.


Rebekah said...

yeah, i got nothing. i outline until im blue in the face before i even start writing.

tonya said...

I sketch the big details out, but if I try to get anymore detailed than that I basically end up writing the story in my outline. I wish I could outline, though. I think I'd have much more confidence with a visible road map, you know?