So I took all my ideas, the ones that have been buzzing around in my head for a year (or is it two?) since I first had the audacious thought that I might have a novel in me after all, and started putting them down today.
Not that I haven’t written a lot of it down before, but this time I have a framework (ripped from that other book, remember?) to keep me focused when things start getting away from me.
There’s quite a lot there already.
I always thought that I would hate to be the kind of write who planned a whole book. I thought it would quash the creativity, take away the excitement, the adventure of finding out what happened, as I wrote.
This romantic ideal of the writing life has so far failed to get me through anything more than a 2000 word story (and if I’m honest, I know where I’m going with those before I start, too. I just don’t have to write it down because it’s small enough to hold in my head).
I also don’t know why I have this idea about fiction because my best work so far, my non-fiction is worked in the utter opposite manner. I start with my topic, do my research, pick out the main points I need to make, and cut out a few based on word-count, then I sit down with a sheet of paper and write something like this:
Intro – 100 words
Point 1 – 600 words
Point 2 – 600 words
Point 3 – 600 words
Conclusion – 100 words
Then I write down the three most important things about Point 1 and try to figure out if I can say them in 200 words each. Same for Points 2 and 3. In the end, one section might borrow a few (or a lot of) words from another, but having this outline makes it much more simple for me to sit down and gather all my knowledge on a subject and funnel it into an essay or article. THAT’s when I can relax and find out how this article wants to be written.
It’s super-structured and it makes me happy.
Why would I think that I was the kind of person who could just sit down and write an 80,000 word book with no map?
Probably because it was the way I wrote my long and often-praised stories at primary school.
But at primary school I was reading all the time, and instinctively copying the form (and language) of the books I loved. And I was still working on the scale of six-pages of a school jotter. And I was working without the handicap of an inner critic (or responsibilities, or interruptions).
Imagine if there was someone making time for my writing the way my parents and teachers made time for my compositions at school.
I guess that someone has to be me, now.
Well, now at least I have the start of a framework on which to hang my writing when I start to steal that time for myself.
And it makes me happy.