Finally, after nearly a month of working on the outline for Pepper Martin mystery #8, I began writing the book yesterday. A small victory to celebrate, but as always, outlining, then writing, makes me think about how many different hats writers wear.
Outlining, writing, re-writing, editing...each requires a different skill set and a totally different mindset, too.
When I’m outlining, I find myself more fully involved in the story than when I’m writing it. I get preoccupied (and this week, I let my son’s toasted cheese sandwiches burn because I was so busy thinking, I completely forgot about them). This is the time when all possibilities are considered, when ideas come together–or not. When they do, it’s on to the next plot point and the next idea. When they don’t . . .well, it often means backing up a couple steps, reconsidering, looking at things from a new angle.
Often plot points that seem insurmountable are easily fixed and those, too, are small victories. Sometimes, the problems that are the hardest to solve send the clearest messages: this is not the way the story should be going. Start all over again!
The actual writing seems to come from a different part of the brain. This is where words collide, where images float around like dust motes in a streak of sunshine. Sometimes what I want to say is clear, but more often, every word is a battle. Yesterday, I wrote nine pages and was insanely proud of myself. Of course, ask me about that today after I read over those pages and see if they’re really as brilliant as I hope!
I rewrite as I write, going over and over a sentence, a paragraph, a scene. Consequently, when I’m done with a book, there’s often not much left for me to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t put on my editor hat–another different skill–and look at the book as a whole, checking for inconsistencies, and flow and pacing.
It’s interesting, this creativity stuff, and it always makes me marvel at the workings of our brains. With any luck, mine will keep heading in the right direction, and that deadline that’s getting closer every day!