Friday, April 9, 2010

Finding What Works for You

If you put a group of writers in a room, and you ask the questions, 'What techniques do you use to write a novel? What helps you to get-r-done?" you will get a variety of answers.

Some might say:
"I outline."
"I use a storyboard."
"I use index cards."
"I write on the seat of my pants."

No method is wrong. You have to find what works for you. 

When I wrote my first full-length novel back in the mid-90s, I didn't own a computer. I wrote the entire thing out by hand first, then when I purchased one of those typewriters with the small computer screen that was attached, I typed it out and saved it on a floppy disk.

When my husband realized how serious I was about this writing thing, he insisted I move up to a computer with a printer.

But back to handwriting. This is the method I use to get-r-done. I call it rapid writing. You do not pause to edit. You just write and write as the scene unfolds in your imagination.

When I begin a new novel, I buy a hefty loose leaf notebook and label it with the book title. To get the momentum going, I write on the first pages about the main characters - my hero and heroine, their names and information about them. 

I put on some classical music, sit at my dining room table or out on the deck with notebook and pen. (Do this away from your computer desk.) I then start writing out scenes as I see them in my mind. I have a brain that is visual. I see my stories like movies. Thus I write down what I see on the silver screen of my imagination. I write quickly this way and can get an entire chapter written in one sitting...which usually lasts for several hours. Then I transcribe the scene into my Word document. It changes of course...tweaked here and there...added to and subtracted from. But it works for me. It's the best way to overcome writers block in my opinion.

Of course when the first draft is finished there is the time for revisions. A historical takes me several months to write, sometimes a year depending. But now that I have a relationship with a fantastic publisher I am committed to deadlines. Rapid writing is what's getting me to my goal of a complete manuscript on time.

What methods do you use to get-r-done, to build momentum in the writing of your novel?

P.S. If you do write your stories in a notebook, keep them, and date them. Put them in a safe place. You may have a grandchild or great grandchild that will want them one day.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Wow! I can't imagine writing an entire book by hand.

When I read and write, I'm also visual. If I can't "see" the action, I get bored.

While I jot notes by hand, the bulk of my work is done on the computer. Since typing is second nature to me, it's easier to keep pace with my brain.

Susan :)

Jan Cline said...

Im impressed too. I find that I type so much I have almost forgot how to hand write! I do love your method. I hope I get far enough in my career to develop a method. For my first and current novel, I just started typing and it all spilled out. I have little notes scattered all over the house that I gather and incorporate into the MS, but that's the only madness to my method!

Deborah said...

It's nice to find someone who writes like I do! I much prefer hand writing over the computer. I only go to the computer after I've worked things out with pen and paper. The difference is...most of my writing is songs! I like to see the progression from start to finish. If I used the computer, I would only have the finished product. I often go back and use a deleted line or phrase in another project.
I also date everything I write, and try to keep a file folder for each title....although I'm very far behind with filing!