Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Changing the Process

I hope everybody had a wonderful Easter weekend – I know I did! But it’s back to business now, which means back to writing.
I’m attempting a somewhat new approach (for me anyway) to writing this year. For the first time in a long, long while, instead of focusing on a novel I’m focusing on a collection of short stories. Like a novel, but in many respects, completely different from a novel.
For instance, usually I’d be busy outlining, creating timelines, deciding chapter lengths and thinking about plot arcs . . . I’m not doing any of that this time. I’m going back to an old style of writing, and instead of being so rigid with my planning, I’m simply letting my creativity run free. Which means I have no idea what’s going to happen in my stories!
It’s fun. I think I needed this change to get my mind back into writing, and to remind myself how good it is to simply be creative rather than focusing too much on the process. I don’t want the fun of writing to get lost in the process, and whilst that doesn’t happen often, I’m not saying it hasn’t happened in the past. When you’re spending lots of time updating a timeline, ticking off plot and scenes that you had planned out, trying to mentally construct the next plot twist etc. etc., you lose a lot of time which could be spent writing. I’m not saying that all those parts of the process aren’t useful – they’re incredibly useful, in fact – but I needed to get back to basics. To get myself out of my writing slump, I needed a little reminder of why I love writing so much. This is something I plan to do for a long time; that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a little fun with it.
Another new thing which I’m doing is planning when I’ll write. I didn’t do that before. It’s almost like a role reversal: instead of planning the writing I’m planning the time to write and letting the writing take care of itself (that was a little bit of a tongue twister!). But it’s true. By being organised about when I’m going to write I know that whatever the outcome of my stories, there will eventually be an outcome. The fantastic thing with short stories is that it’s far easier to see the end of the tunnel than in a novel. When you’re only writing 10,000 words a story, 2,500 words a day doesn’t become so much of a task. Writing doesn’t become an endless struggle.
The plan is working. I’m on track to finish my collection of stories by the end of the month, and it should come in at around 60,000-70,000 words collectively. Which is about the size of a novel. But by focusing on the shorter pieces, and breaking down each story into 10,000 words, it’s become a much smaller task. I’m very excited to be working on this smaller project, and I’m really glad that I’ve had the opportunity to create new characters, new worlds and a fresh piece of work to focus on. I feel like this project has given me my creativity back, and honestly, I don’t think you can ever put a price on that.

3 comments:

  1. I love writing short stories, they are a great way of refreshing your mind and getting the creative juices flowing. I'll admit now that I have never written one much over 5,000 words, though I'm not even sure if I've done THAT much! I'll have to try my luck on making a longer one at some point. Good luck with your collection! It sounds like a great idea, a good change of scenery for you, so to speak. :)

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    1. I thought I'd ease into it with a longer short story than usual. After writing novels for so long I'm not sure I know how to do a truly short story! Maybe we should exchange writing skills for a day haha. Thank you, and yes, I feel like it's doing me a world of good! (:

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    2. They're fun, you'll be great at it, I'm sure :)

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