by: Joelle Charbonneau
Okay, I know that everyone has been posting about their writing workspaces this week. The thing is – I’ve been on the road a lot for the past couple weeks, which means my workspace has been my android phone. And while the keyboard is great for texting or typing out a short e-mail – it isn’t all that great for writing. In fact, I haven’t had a great deal of time to write which is starting to make me a little nuts. (Yeah – I’m always nuts, but the lack of writing if making more wacky than usual.)
However, this week at Bouchercon I’ve had a great time talking about writing. More to the point, talking about the process of writing. The one thing you learn while talking to lots of other writers over a short period of time is how similar and also how very different we all are. Yes – we all write stories. Some of us write on the lighter side of crime fiction while others (and by others know that I am pointing at the other seven writers of this blog) create the darker, more intense crime fiction.
However beyond genre or publishing experience, we are also all different in our writing process. Some writers create an outline and write using that as a map to get them to the end. This sounds fabulous and organized and should be something I do. But I can’t. I cannot write from an outline to save my soul. I figure out what the end of chapter one is before I start typing. Once I have that I put my fingers to the keyboard and wait to see what happens. Yep – I write by the seat of my proverbial pants and hope to God that I manage to create an interesting and readable story along the way. Getting to the end is often fraught with “What happens next?” and a lot of head banging, but eventually I get to the end.
Now, the bashing my head against a brick wall and scratching my noggin to decide where my plot is supposed to be going doesn’t sound like much fun – even to me. On the days where I haven’t a clue what I’m supposed to be writing next, I long for the ability to write from an outline. Too bad every time I try it, my writing comes to a screeching halt and my story no longer wants to go into the direction the outline says it should.
This Bouchercon, I learned I’m in good company with my lack of outlining skills. Reed Farrel Coleman and I talked about our process (or what might seem like a lack thereof) after hours in the bar. We both write without outlines, but other authors swear by them. Each author has a way he or she needs to work to create a story. What is right for one author will get another author stuck in the mud. Process is intensely personal for each author. Reed believed that it is easier for an author to change their routine (such as the time of day they write or their workspace – see there is the workspace theme!) than it is to change their process. I agree. Do you? What is your process? Have you tried to change it? And if you did try to change your process, did that change work for you?