Sunday, 20 June 2010

Easy writing, or simply easier?

An empty, brilliant white Word document with nothing but the cursor blinking pretty much strikes fear into my poor writer's heart.  Usually, the getting going is the hardest part of my writing process.  Once the first paragraph is over, everything seems to flow way better.  But sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes it does.  So, my question is this: is there really such a thing as easy writing?  Or sometimes is what we write only easier?

For awhile now I've been working on a YA project which falls outside my comfort zone: its normal - minus the para.  The thing that struck me with this project is something I've never experienced as a writer before.  It didn't flow well.  I found myself staring at the computer screen for huge blocks of time and only getting a few words out.

I'm not a planner.  When I start a project I jot down some character points, a few plot ideas I have, and generally where I think the story is headed.  Once the story starts fleshing out and growing, then I go back and start scribbling notes and plans in my trust notebooks.  But for my current project, I couldn't plan anything.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  My concept ideas page was the only page filled in the notebook and so I (probably stupidly) just went ahead and started writing anyway.

Once maybe fifty pages into the story, I started getting stuck.  I knew generally where my characters were going, but it was like I had to put all my faith in my creative streak - or writing blind, as I like to think of it.  The further I delved into the story, the more stuck I got.  I literally wrote myself into a corner.  It was time to take charge.

One night I sat down at my desk and refused to budge until I had plotted out the story and did character info's and backgrounds and anything else I could think of.  Suddenly post-its were full, my desk hidden under pinks rectangles, green and blue squares, yellow small rectangles.  Using my bare wall in my office I stuck all the post-its to it and hey presto!  My story outline in full.  I knew where I was going.  The blinders were off, I could see.

And I haven't been able to write anything since.

I'm on page 160 and I know exactly where everything is going, whose gonna do what and whose gonna break whose heart.  I just can't get it out.

At first I thought this was down to what's going on in my life right now (a toddler, a big move, husband changing jobs and depression that I still haven't lost all my baby weight!) so I figured all these factors played a part in my slow moving writing train.

But then something happened.  Another book I wrote way before this one was even a musing in my mind started cropping up in my head with increasing frequency.  I've always considered doing a sequel for it, but I couldn't come up with a big enough story line, or not enough subplots to fill a whole book.  So, just for fun, I wrote a short story with one idea I had.  I wrote twenty pages in one night.

It was reminded me why I love doing what I do all over was like going on that magical first date again, seeing my baby boy for the first time, kissing my husband on our wedding day.

Everything fell away - it was the kind of writing where you just go with it and you feel like you're just along for the ride.  The kind of writing where you pause for a break and you can't feel your butt, and you realise four hours have passed without you even realising it.  This, to me, is the definition of easy writing.

So why am I having so much trouble with my current WIP?  The best writing tip I've ever heard to avoid writers block is when you are struggling to write the scenes your most excited about, and fill in the gaps later, it will all come together easier.  How true it is!  Except for this story.  NOTHING makes writing this story easy.

My short story felt like easy writing in comparison, but was it really?  Or was it just easier?


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