I've been thinking about the term Larry Brooks uses for the kind of writer I've been - organic. I like it better than "pantser". I became an organic writer because one day I decided that I could write a book. I didn't ask advice or read anything about it or even doubt myself. I just did it. Yeah, it was pretty disastrous, but I did get a personal reply from an editor at Harlequin. I didn't realize until years later how rare that is.
I learned some important things from that book. First - I could do it. I could sit down with an idea and carry it through to hea (happily ever after). Second - That I loved doing it. Third - I needed help before I did it again.
So started my quest to learn and absorb anything that would help me become a better writer. And it worked. I am better. I've written 1st drafts of a dozen or so novels - (thank you nanowrimo).
I thought it would get easier. It hasn't.
Yes, that first draft comes flying out, and yes, my characters come alive and I have a great time spending the month of November with them, but after that what? After that, I let them sit, and I go back and read them, and I love them, but I know that they need to be revised and that the timing here isn't right and this conversation seems like it might be in the wrong place, and why did she do that? and would he ever do that? Then something comes up that takes me away from the manuscript for a day or two, I forget where I was, and either move on to a different story, or drown my sorrows in spider solitaire.
At least that's what I used to do.
I'm committing this year to a couple of things - no more computer games, write every day, and write my next three books using structure and at least some sort of outline. I figure 3 manuscripts will be enough to convince me that it is easier to start with a skeleton, than it is to try to insert the skeleton later. (Even though Temperance Brennan would probably find that scenario intriguing.)
For now, I've got an organic manuscript that isn't quite where I want it to be. I'm hoping my commitment to write every day will get this story done and out to readers. Then I can start on the next one. And the next. Some days I think it would just be easier to open a new file and start writing the book all over again, now that I've discovered the story.
That's what it's all about after all - discovering the story. Whether through an outline, or through actually writing, until I know what I'm trying to say, I won't be able to say it the way I want.
What would a professional writer do? (I actually paused to scratch my forehead after I typed that). I guess after I sign my first contract, I will just know these things, right?
I think I hear the sound of distant laughter . . .