A Modified Writer

Monday, August 27, 2012

A pantser or a plotter? When you hang around with writers this is a question you’re asked on numerous occasions. If you ask me on two different days you may get two different answers. Because the fact is, I am a little known variety: the modified. The modified writer came about not from some burst of genius on my part but, like most inventions, out of necessity.

I am the average writer. I have three children, a husband, a full time job, a group of friends that know I am always good for a few hours of volunteering, two dogs that are always in need of a walk, a vegetable/flower garden that is always in need of weeding, the list goes on…The time I can dedicate to my YA novel is limited, severely limited. Yet when I came to that precious time of the day I often found myself rereading yesterday’s writing, looking up details, musing over what my characters would do next, in general frittering away valuable time.

After some experimentation, I found that the best way to jump into the day’s writing was with a daily assignment. Each night, after I collapse into bed I read over that days writing and decide in the most general way what will happen next. Than I write out the title of tomorrow’s assignment. Something like: Deuce tells G. he’s joining the Army.

Giving myself a “daily assignment” the night before gives me time throughout the day to consider it: while I dab on my makeup, pack lunches, drive to work, even while I’m on hold. I can try out scenarios in my head, do basic research (where would someone from Pennsylvania go to Army basic training?), and hopefully arrive at my writing time with at least an opening sentence. Sometimes when I sit down to actually write the planned scene gets tossed in the trash heap of my mind, but at least I didn’t spend my entire writing time pondering that scene, leaving another day without one word written.

So if you want to make some progress on your latest WIP perhaps it’s time to become a modified writer. What type of writer are you?


Margo Dill said...

This is a great idea. I am going to share with some of my students who struggle with keeping a writing schedule. Love it! I think I am going to use it for myself, too.

Audrey said...

I agree that this is a great idea! Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful. I love to "mull" over my stories before I get each part down on paper. But, as I am sure many others have learned...mulling can go wildly astray when it doesn't have any direction. Having an idea of what I want to happen next, gives my mulling a framework or outline to follow. I'm going to give this method a try and see how it works for me. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Oh yes! I love this idea! While I often muse about my WIP, it is not as focussed. Assigning myself particular scenes to work on may just work better. Thanks for your brilliant suggestion!

Muddy said...

This is so me! The 3 kids, the carpools & volunteering, the no time to write schedule but somehow I write anyway. I love your idea of giving yourself a daily assignment. I'll have to try it!

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