Round Robin Discussion – Growth as a Writer

This month’s Round Robin discussion is on how we have each grown as writers!

Every book I write is an adventure. I learn something new about the craft of writing and how I can hone my own style with each chapter. I’ve learned that I can’t have an outline at the beginning of a book, but that I can’t finish a book without an outline either.

It sounds strange, I know. But I think Brandon Sanderson has mentioned that he does the same thing so I think I’m in good company here.

I need the freedom of not knowing where the book is going in order to pay attention to the characters on the page. And then, once I feel I know those characters and their motivations, that’s when I need to find out where the story is going and build toward it.

Subsequently, I’ve learned that I have to write my outline in a notebook with a base color – often blue. And then I add to it in different colors; red for plot issues, green for character arc questions, purple for graphics like setting, and sometimes pink for mechanical and/or magic questions that need to be addressed in the storyline.

It’s a mess when you look at it, but it’s a mess that makes my brain happy. Somehow, in the middle of all those colors and questions, that outline is able to carry me through to the end of the book.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned comes from the fact that I’ve been in school for the past three years. So many people say they don’t have time to write and, let’s be honest here, it doesn’t look like I should have the time to write either. Between a full-time job, a full schedule at school, and being a single parent, writing should be impossible.

But I’ve learned that if you love something enough, you’ll make room for it somewhere.

So if you truly love writing, you’ll find the time to do it. Even if you’re scribbling notes on the back of a receipt from Barnes & Noble, you’re writing. Even if all you’ve got is twenty minutes on your lunch break with a notepad, that’s twenty minutes more time with pen to page and you’re writing.

I’ll graduate in May 2014, which will free up a lot of time to write. I’m hoping that with all this new time I’ll be able to get at least four drafts done before 2015 hits us. (That’s four separate stories, not four drafts of the same story.) I have a pretty full publication schedule in 2014 as well, which will require my attention in the marketing department.

Five or ten years from now I hope to still be telling stories. For me it’s not about the sales so much as it’s about telling a compelling story that challenges who I am as a person. If I’m not challenged by what I’m writing then I’m not going deep enough into the characters on the page. Maybe in the middle of challenging myself I’ll be able to challenge someone else. We can all be better people, we just have to find the inspiration to spark us into movement.

The Round Robin Continues with author Connie Vines at her blog. So hop on over there and check out how Connie has grown as an author!

9 thoughts on “Round Robin Discussion – Growth as a Writer

  1. Loved your outline method, mine is nearly as unique. You make me feel less crazy. Also loved: “For me it’s not about the sales so much as it’s about telling a compelling story that challenges who I am as a person.” — me too! Thanks.

  2. I like your outlining method, I have to use colour for mine as well. I prefer to use post-its as it splits the information into little bites and the different colours help my mind process it.

    Your passion really shines through here =) I think the thing I’ve learned this year is how important writing is to me but by the same token, I cannot force myself to write. I have to be emotionally in the right state, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    1. I knew I was in good company with the outline process. I don’t know what it is about all those colors but every time I get to that stage of the book I start to get all warm-fuzzy-happy inside.

      As to the emotional state, I’d have to agree with you. Writing is difficult when you’re just crafting your way through it instead of loving the stuff on the page. Sometimes you have to step back and give it time to gestate.

  3. I wish I could outline, but I can’t. Also, it’s strange, but I produced more when I was a full-time employee. I think it comes from structure, and since retiring, I can’t seem to organize my time as effectively as I once did. I found lots of time to write when I worked. Lunch, breaks, and mornings when I came in early. I finished my debut novel and started a second all while working full-time. If there is something someone wants, they’ll find the time.

    1. It’s so funny that you should mention the time thing, Ginger. I’ve been on break for the last two weeks and I have to admit that I haven’t gotten nearly as much writing done as I meant to. I’d like to blame that on the whole holiday thing, and the fact that I needed a vacation, but I think there might be an underlying problem too. I’ll need to make some adjustments to my habits come graduation to make sure I get the writing done that I want to.

  4. You’re an example for all those who say we don’t have time to write.(I even try that one once in awhile.) And I do outline – not quite like you, but just as messy.

    1. I love messy outlines. Like I said, they make my brain happy. Whenever I get stuck in the middle of writing I’ll pull that outline out and just review everything on there. (And since I write in the margins it sometimes requires that I turn the notebook sideways.)

  5. Like you, I write anytime, anywhere, while cooking dinner, waiting for appointments or meeting friends for coffee. I usually carry a notebook everywhere I go, but have ended up writing on napkins, receipts and scrap paper at work if I get a sudden thought. Keep on writing!

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