A while ago I wrote about different ways of writing , particularly writing fiction. My thoughts were triggered by something I saw on social media which asked ‘are you a planner or a pantser’ – a pantser being someone who flies by the seat of their pants, making few plans if any about their project. I am definitely not a planner, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have quite a few vague notions and more than a few firm ideas. I am in a way a pantser, I start writing not always knowing where I’m going, and sometimes surprising myself by things which arrive on the page. I usually write my story roughly in the order it eventually appears, but I often go back and change parts, add in bits, have a new or changed beginning, move parts about, but it’s a forward moving progress of imagination and adventure!
In 2019, I had a bit of a blockage, I won’t call it writer’s block, but it was definitely a time when writing seemed like wading through mud. I pushed on and finished – eventually – a story I had been very stuck on, and managed to write many other things as well. Last year I was determined that I shouldn’t slip into a habit of procrastinating, so with the latest story in my Radwinter adventures I decided I wouldn’t just write at my computer, I would take advantage of any slack time, and write! This meant we would be going shopping and I’d write something on my phone, we’d be going somewhere else (when we were allowed to) and I would write on my iPad, I would be working here on something else and I would deviate and write a quick chapter, section, couple of paragraphs; wherever I was I would write.
This sounds amazing, doesn’t it! And it was I wrote about 75,000 words – knowing that not all of them would be retained, it’s part of my process, to have a big lump of writing then chop it back and refine it, so I expected at least half of what I’d write would go. Some of it is completely deleted, some is put aside for something else. I got to a stage where although the story wasn’t finished – maybe about two thirds of the way through, that I needed to pull it together because to be honest, I was getting in a muddle. I had the mistaken identity story-line, I had the person who went missing twelve years ago, I had a problem with the children’s school friends, I had the usual domestic and family trivia, I had the old lady who had gone missing in mysterious circumstances… but for once, my way of working had failed! It was total chaos! Everything was muddled, some story-lines were in the wrong order, I had changed names of some of the characters without realising it, I had written some parts twice, hadn’t finished some sections leaving it all hanging in mid-air, sometimes mid-sentence… It had all the appearances of a disaster!
It’s taken me ages to get it into some sort of order – I had just copied all my random bits and pasted them on to a document which of course was silly because it was a complete mess, and a complicated mess. It’s taken me ages to get it into what I hope is now a consecutive narrative – although I may find it isn’t. This involved me highlighting parts in different colours – yellow for missing old lady, pale blue for missing chap, pink for kids and domestic, green for something else, grey for another thing – but at least I could see some sort of timeline and a story which made sense (I’m still juggling with the old lady’s name as she appears as Gladys, Margaret, Hilda, and a few others!)
All this mucking about means I haven’t done much more writing of it because I don’t want to muddle myself further! However, I am now doing a final read-through of the story so far, and within the next few days I should be able to get going! I’m not going to set a deadline, but I want to get it complete in a rough form so I can then work on sprucing it up, ready for publication… and then will come the tricky business of thinking of a title!
In case you’ve missed my Radwinter novels, and my other books, here’s a link: