Just like the Pisces symbol I was born under (if astrology means anything to you; it doesn’t to me), I’m in two minds when it comes to life: usually, I like to plan ahead for things and know what to expect (what I call my Against the Current Fish–ACF), but at other times I like to go with the flow (my Downstream Fish (DSF), alternately known as OK Player (OKP) when I’ve lost the will to care :D). Most of the time, the areas of my life are clearly ruled by one or the other facet of my complex personality:
Work: ACF Bill Paying: OKP (bad, I know) What I wear to work: DSF
Chores: ACF Cooking: DSF
But there are some areas in life where the fish battle for supremacy:
romantic relationship packing
Nowhere is this more true than in the case of my writing, particularly my NaNoWriMo novel.
I planned very little in advance with this novel. Even though I lifted the idea from a little piece I wrote my senior year of high school for a writing workshop class. I planned out what the catalyst would be, the major dramatic question (MDQ), when it would all come to a head and who the major players were. I decided on a time line and how to split up the story: the call that is the catalyst for recent events, for example, occurs one year before everything comes to a head, but there are some important things that happened nine and ten years before the crisis point as well. I thought that I could plan out when to introduce characters before I wrote each day. Other than that, I would let the writing flow.
This seems to have been a bad idea. It works some days, but other days, I am almost in tears for lack of inspiration. I curse myself that I didn’t plan ahead better. My characters surprise me (the best friend being pregnant was not what I originally had in mind), real people creep in (my boyfriend as my MC’s boyfriend), and many of the things I planned go to crap (or are DOA).
But then, when everything clicks, it really clicks. Like my description of where she meets Nathan for their blind date, or how well the prologue came out. I had a one line description of one of my MC’s aunt’s that captured her character so perfectly, I could not write another word about her personality and you’d get it.
I worry that planning ahead too much can kill the anticipation I feel sitting down to write. It’s like a soap opera or Dexter: what’s going to happen when I sit down today? Is my MC going to go from frying pan to fire? Is she going to have a spot of good luck? What craziness will her pregnant best friend pull? Will the men inadvertently ruin everything?
So what I need to figure out is how to strike a balance between letting the work flow and planning ahead enough so that I at least have SOMEWHERE to begin each day.
How do you write? Are you someone who plans ahead, lets it flow, or both? How do you balance it out and keep writing?
Note: Balance is one of my favorite words these days.
- NaNoWriMo: Why I consider less than 50,000 success (tangledwords.wordpress.com)
- 2010 NaNoWriMo WIN!! (clairegillian.wordpress.com)
- “Coming Up in November: National Life Writing Month and NaNoWriMo” and related posts (astoriedcareer.com)
- How to Use NaNoWriMo to Improve as a Writer (ishanamaya.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo 2010 (dedricmauriac.wordpress.com)