Sheryl R. Hayes

Figuring out writing one word at a time.

My Writing Process – Do I Even Have One?

A friend and a fellow writer told me the other day about obtaining Post-Its for use in her plotting process.  She suggested that I write down my plotting process, if I had one.  I do have one, but it’s hard to pin down and describe.

The best way to describe my method is pantsing with a minimal amount of plotting. I come up with an idea, play with it, stretch it here, compress it there.  Instead of scribbling it on paper, I do it all in my head.  When i have a rough mental list of scenes I want, I dive in and start writing.

That is exactly what I did for my latest project.  While I’m waiting for some feedback on my novel, I decided I’d write down some of the characters backstories.  Right now I’m not planning on publishing that, and just wanted a written reference on hand.  A couple of people have pointed out that the backstory could be a novel in and of itself.  This backstory was something that had been rattling in my head ever since I conceived of the character. So I opened a file and started typing merrily away.

It was going well.  I pounded out eight thousand words before grinding to a halt.  Something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on what.  I tried to force my way through this blockage.  Words were typed, but they were the wrong words.  Monday I had a toothbrush moment.  Followed immediately by a face-palm moment.

By rushing into writing without outlining, I had made mistakes that I cannot write my way out of.  I would have caught them much earlier if I had taken an evening to do some outlining.  Of those eight thousand words, I may be able to use roughly one-third to one-half.

So I have spent one night putting down most of an outline.  It’s not complete, and there are holes in it.  But it is more of a game plan than I had earlier.  And it taught me that despite how bright and shiny the idea is, I need to stop and do some prep work before I dive in, no matter how well I think I know what is going on.

1 Comment

  1. I am not a writer (as you well know from our collaboration on the rpg). I have no gift for plots or characterization. If I try to visualize a character to write about …it is faceless and cardboard and unreal both to me and the reader. When I dream I seldom remember my dreams but I have had an experience in the last few weeks that I suddenly realized could help me write if I could harness it. When I dream it seems real, I am there and the people I am interacting with are real and then at some point it seems I am coming awake but continuing the dream but controlling it, adding to it. As I surface even more I start actively writing the story and the people are still real except often the person closest to me in the action is faceless or at least I can never remember who it was. As I am lying there awake dreaming I find myself rewriting sections of the dream to improve them, adding dialogue to flesh out bits, taking the bodies in a new direction. I woke with the thought that if I could somehow remember the action, the purpose, the story, the people and just continue on while awake…it might actually be possible to write. So, another weird moment of what I call an ether moment, I wake thinking all these thoughts, log on and here you are talking about writing process. Spooky. Who was it said that the future is here and runs with the present and some of us can tap into it and that is what deja vu is or those moments when you think of someone for the first time in months and the phone rings and it is them.

Leave a Reply

© 2017 Sheryl R. Hayes

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑