After weeks of learning to outline a story, I’m finally into the writing of it, and let me tell you, it’s WAY harder than pantsing.
I’ve heard over and over that plotting a book is the absolute easiest way to write and so I mostly expected once I had an outline for the story that the words would just flow.
They are flowing like molasses, people.
I’m having to fight for every word, every scene, because for the first time, I’m not writing based solely on inspiration and how the story hits me. I am used to the story just flowing out, almost writing itself, because I wait until I’ve gotten some new inspiration on the story and then churning out 10 or 20 thousand words isn’t so hard.
I’m at just over 5,000 words of my new MS. In a week.
But here’s the thing.
I’m not in despair over it. I recognize that I’m learning something new. I’m learning HOW to do something I’ve done in one way for SO VERY LONG in a totally new way. I’m learning how to think about characters and flaws and story arcs and character arcs and trying to figure out how to fit all of those things together as I write the story.
I’m trying to think about the personality of my characters and think “what would they do in this situation?” and I’m at the beginning of the story, which is always the hardest to figure out. At least I think so. I know what I’m trying to write toward, I just don’t know how to get there.
In some ways, learning to outline has been so frustrating and time consuming and, for me, a real BARRIER to writing.
As I’m reading things from others, I’m seeing how much I’ve grown as a writer in just a few weeks. I see stories differently. I understand critiquing differently. I’m looking in a totally different way at the real CRAFT of writing.
I have several old novels in drawers and looking back, I see WHY they’re bad. I see WHY they’re a bit garbagy. I also think I can see a glimmer of how to fix them if I wanted to. And there’s one that I just might want to fix. I mean, sure, I’ll have to take it from its literary form and figure out how to turn it into a fantasy (because adding magic and maybe dragons to the story could really take it to the next level).
For the first time, I can envision writing a story that doesn’t take me YEARS to write, but maybe just ONE year. MAYBE, JUUUUUUST maybe, even less. Of course, that would require a lot of time to dedicate to writing, which I don’t have (hello, kids).
But now, for the first time, I can really envision myself moving forward in writing and moving from a decent writer to a GREAT writer.
I can’t take the credit myself, though. I can own the part where I was open to learning something new (but that’s totally my personality – learning something is completely my jam), but it was a fellow writer turned writing mentor who really pushed me over the edge. I think she saw me standing on a precipice where I could continue what I was doing and be okay or she could nudge me off the edge into excellence by adding new knowledge. And not only did she send me new books, but she is walking right next to me every step of this journey.
You see, community is where growth happens. In every area of life. We can’t grow alone because without her, I would never have seen where I was going wrong and where I wasn’t understanding story. I thought I was pretty good. Other people told me I was pretty good. She has always seen better somewhere inside me. She’s told me “I know you can write better than this” and she has always pushed me to do better and be better.
So, all that to say words are going on the page now. I feel so excited about these next couple years because I firmly believe I’ll finally have a whole novel of my own out there, under my own name, getting paid for it (assuming people buy it, of course), and working toward adding great stories to the unbelievably massive pile already out there. I want to tell GREAT stories. And I really think I’m on my way now.