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!