And darn proud of it!
Now, before horrible images start playing through your minds, let me explain myself. Claire touched on a very important subject in her post this week, and I thought I would venture into another that sometimes plagues new writers. I'm definitely no exception here. I let "the rules" of how things are supposed to be done bog me down for far too long. But man, when enlightenment fell on this thick skull, that's all she wrote!
So, just what do I mean by my post title? I mean this…
I'm a chunk writer who flies by the seat of her pants, y'all.
I don't outline.
I don't do character study sheets.
I don't even write in a linear line from beginning to end.
And you know what? That is OKAY. Say it with me… that is OKAY.
I feel the need to bring up this subject because honestly, I think the idea of chunk writing really scares a lot of people. I know the idea sounded quite alien to me for most of my life. And of course, I've always been a chunk writer trying to force herself into the mold of what I thought "writing" was supposed to entail. To explain, let's do a quick flash through Jen's life:
--Jen age 12 – Ohhh….I have this great idea for a story! I see this scene that is SO cool. I should write it…write it NOW. *screech of brakes* But wait a minute! That isn't the way it's done! I must start from the beginning and work up to that scene. Otherwise, how they heck will I know if it's "right" – if it "works." How can I start a story in the middle?? It must begin at the beginning! I must do a detailed outline with at least three bullet points for each scene! *Jen age 12 thinks really hard* She doesn't know how to begin this book. *idea falters and fades* Must not have been the right story if I couldn't think of a spectacular way to begin it. Better luck next time.
--Jen age 24 -- Why oh why can't I write a story?! *sobs* Why?!?! For the love of God, why?!?! Hmmm. Why not just write this scene I've had floating around in my head the past few weeks? Just to see. Jen age 24 says what the heck. Can't hurt me any. She writes it. It is so super-fantastic. So shiny and sparkly and practically perfect in every way. (go with me, here) I must show this to my sister so she can see how super-fantastic, shiny and sparkly and practically perfect it is. Then we can both be stunned with amazement. *Jen age 24 shows it to big sister and waits with barely concealed glee for the stunned reaction to appear. For Big Sis to realize she is in the presence of a literary genius!* *Jen age 24's big sister finishes reading and gives Jen age 24 a blank look* Jen age 24—clearly shocked to see such a mild expression on Big Sis's face, exclaims, "Well?" Big Sis: I don't know what to say. I don't know what comes before it. Jen age 24: But is it GOOD? Just that scene. Big Sis: I don't know! I can't say if I don't know what comes before it! *Many rounds of this ensue, ending with Jen age 24 slumping back to the drawing board. Foiled again.*
Okay…you see my point? I got so caught up in the idea of how things are SUPPOSED to be done that I wouldn't let my own techniques bubble to the surface. As a result, I spent many frustrated years starting and stopping stories that fizzled out when I couldn't pull together an outline, start from the beginning, plot, etc. Take your pick. My life is littered with literary road kill.
I realize that this is all my doing. I should've had the confidence in myself to say to heck with the rules, I'm going to write a book MY way. But I didn't. It took many years, many failed attempts, and one very smart lady to point out the fact that it doesn't matter how you write a book.
What I realized is that it doesn't matter if you start in the middle, jump around like a chili pepper on crack, or write your book backwards. The ONLY thing that matters is that you write it. And…
Psst!! Lean in so I can whisper this…
No one will ever know when they read the final book.
Cross my heart and all that.
Don't be afraid to do things outside the box. That's what one fabulous writer named Diana Gabaldon taught me, and I hope I have passed on that knowledge to anyone floundering around believing he/she is doing things the wrong way.
There is no wrong way. Remember that.