I love writing. I love the way words come together and create this scene--especially when it's such a good one. I love seeing where characters take me and being frustrated and awed that it's not where I expect. It's a need, a joy, like nothing else.
Writing is a feast. It is a large buffet filled with possibilities. You can walk down the line, grab a little of this and a little of that, cram it all on a plate and go to town. You pick what you want, do what you want, create what you want. It's filling and you don't stop until you've had all you want. It's really the best thing in the world. I love it so much, that sometimes I forget there are so many other parts to telling a story. Some of them, are probably more important than the writing.
I had the weekend off from all three jobs and I knew I wanted to spend it well. I never get the chance to really spend hours and hours doing writing-related things so I took this weekend to do exactly that. It was filling, enjoyable like that feast. Each hour I spent with Skeeter (my computer) I learned more and more about this craft that I love. I did things that challenged me and for the first time ever, I saw how the writing process is more like a diet than a feast.
I'll be the first to admit that I am a writer who outlines. I like to let the characters go and see what happens. Yet, I have learned the joys of outlining--even loosely--and having something to work with, especially with my new project. This one is so involved and the time line has to perfect. I knew automatically I would have to sit down and write everything out but leave room to breath. On Saturday, I parked my rear in the corner of Panera, put on my awesome Pandora station and started plotting.
I wrote down all the scenes I knew already--or had written already--on paper. Then, I pieced together the order of things (b/c the characters are traveling) and the purpose of each place, what needed to happen there and even some smaller scenes. Sometimes there was just a word like "cleaner," sometimes there was an action, "they argue," and sometimes there were conversations or lines that happen in that piece. I think this will allow me to give the characters room to move, while still pushing the story forward. This project is in three parts and part one and two came together nicely and clear. Part three on the other hand, it's not as pretty. I'm hoping that once everything else comes together, it will open up for me more. Five hours, five Mountain Dews, a great conversation, approx 75 songs and seven pages later...I was finished. I even wrote a couple of the scenes.
I have a crit partner (CP) and she is amazing. I will call her X because I'm too tired to write Christina over and over again. We met randomly, as I've mentioned before, and it has been a really great partnership. We complete each other. Where she is strong in description, insight and making things more emotionally charged, I'm good at characters, story movement and dialogue. She's more technical; I'm more practical. It really works for us.
I spent most of day two editing her manuscript because we've just set some major deadlines for ourselves and it was time to jump in a little deeper. In addition to editing for X, I also edited some of my own work for the current project. I learned that it's important to keep things fresh as you write it so I like to look over the things I've been working on, tweak it, add to it, make it prettier. It takes a little longer and edits aren't always fun but they are definitely needed.
Side note: If you don't another writer giving you helpful feedback, then you should find one. It's so important. There are great tools out there to find one too...and great references. Natalie Whipple offers a lot of great advice on this subject and this is my favorite post about it.
The biggest thing I've learned about revising is that it's different than editing. Edits are more of the point of the problem and revision is changing it. Flaws are easy to find while perfection is harder to build.
I think of the plotting-edits-revision process like a diet.
When you go on a diet, it usually starts with realizing there is a something that needs to be changed (the writing or the plotting process). Then, you spend time figuring how to change it, planning new meals, grocery shopping, joining a gym (edits). The next step is start eat the food, go to the gym and make the effort to change it (revision). It is hard; it takes discipline and time and energy but in the end, there is a result. Without the result (or the revision), all you have is a problem and talk of a solution that instead of solving, you are sneaking cookies from the cookie jar (or cupcakes or your choice baked good) and wondering why there are no results.
Revision is not for the weak-hearted. It requires so much. Lucky for me, I've learned that revision is an amazing tool for my OCD tendencies. Really. I'm one of those people who want things perfect, thus revision is fun for me. I like making things better, crisper, cleaner and more entertaining. I, however, am not good at diets. I like to talk about doing it but I tend to forget about the planning process, the tackling of the problem. And, without that, I'm not able to change anything. They come together, in a set...just like writing/plotting, edits and revision.
Don't overlook one just because you don't like it. In fact, maybe that means you should explore it a little more. After all, it's better to fill a plate with a variety of things rather than just one. A plate full of desserts would be delicious but it would give you a stomachache if it's all you had...