Over the weekend, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. It pleases me to say that I achieved my goal of finishing it before I turned 18.
After writing four books, I have learned what to expect in every stage of my writing. Everyone has their own process when working on a project– and mine is scatterbrained, to put it nicely. I have spoken with people who cannot touch the keyboard until they have outlined their entire story. Others write purely on inspiration. As usual, I can’t bring myself to take a side on this issue. Outlines serve their purpose, but I never know exactly where a story is going until I actually type he words out. My characters take on minds of their own, and they often don’t want to do the things I had planned for them. This may seem strange, and I suppose it is, but that’s how my stories have worked.
I may not be entirely consistent in writing outlines, but in the books I have worked on, many stages of development have emerged. My method of writing is on the fence between chaotic, unorganized flow of text and structured, impersonal dribble.
- Get a vague idea for a character or a scenario that I want to build upon
- Develop the characters in my mind– get to know them and decide what the setting & plot will be like (this stage lasts over a week. There are some story ideas I have been developing in my mind for a couple of years without writing a thing)
- Sit down and force myself to write the first chapter. Every word is agonizing.
- Try to hold myself back. Once I finish the first chapter, I cannot stop typing. My ideas go wild until I’m halfway through the book
- Writer’s block kicks in. I grow irritated with my characters and wonder why I started the book in the first place
- Grab a pencil and make an outline that will guide me to the end of the story
- Become inspired again. Stay up several nights typing until it is finished
- Print manuscript and edit
This pattern has proved true for every story I’ve written. Sometimes there are some extra detours. In my latest project, for example, I spent days re-writing a section of my story between steps 6 & 7. This could have been prevented if I had outlined my story beforehand, but even after writing four books, I must write myself into a corner before considering an outline.