Writers Write is a writing resource. We’ve put together a post that tells you how to keep on writing – even when you’re stuck.
I read once, somewhere (no idea where) that writing is a leap of faith. It is about closing your eyes and falling into the abyss. Nice thought, but it is hard for me. I prefer to say writing is a process and the leap of faith happens somewhere, in there.
How To Keep On Writing
Once I know what I want to do, this is after I have scribbled a few ideas down and fleshed out the first-base ideas I have had, I start to plan. I have an idea-wall in my new office and I put everything up on it. (Before that, I used ring binders.) I find pictures that are similar to my scenes. I cut out a pair of eyes that look like my antagonist’s. I find a picture of the car my protagonist would drive. I do this only for the stuff I know.
I plan my scenes. I write a brief description of what happens in each one. If I don’t know, I leave it blank and write the next one, but I have an idea of where I am going. I write biographies for my characters. I know where they come from. I know what their issues are. I immerse myself in their world. I meet their mother or I find out where they went to school.
Then I start writing and I ignore most of my planning. I guess that is the leap of faith, but I can’t get there without the planning part. I can’t sit down in front of my screen and just write. If I get stuck or my words dry up I will refer back to the pictures and find, for example a dozen different ways to describe his eyes.
As the story grows and changes, I’ll go back and flesh out my planning. If my protagonist develops asthma I add that to his biography. I might even get a new scene out of that, so I’ll add it in too. Nothing is concrete. That is one of the greatest joys and one of the greatest challenges of writing fiction. Anything can happen. It is both liberating and debilitating.
But, eventually we have to stop planning and start writing. As the saying goes – no plan survives contact with the enemy, but I still need that plan. I also love looking back at all my planning to see what stayed and what changed, and how it all evolved. Sometimes it has changed so much it looks like two different stories. I like it when that happens.
by Mia Botha
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