The Method in my Madness: How I Write

I’ll be honest. I’m a terrible writer. My methods leave much to be desired. But, terrible or terrific, this is the way I’ve been writing for some time now, and other than doing a lot more of it lately, my method hasn’t changed.

I write very chaotically. I’m all over the place when working on a project, whether it’s a blog post, short story or novel. I will write down whatever idea has come to the fore at any given moment, often skipping around in sequence. In a novel, I’ll write whatever scene comes into my head. Still, in telling a story, I sometimes find it difficult to skip ahead through linear scenes, and have to power through some really boring stuff in order to get the story moving again.

I don’t plan my stories in advance. I don’t usually do any sort of outlining or plot development. More often than not I’ve started with a character and the barest hint of an idea. I write from that beginning point and see what the characters tell me about their own stories. This isn’t necessarily the best approach, but it has been my most successful approach.

That said, I have on occasion, planned my stories in advance. I’ve written up a fairly detailed outline and created exhaustive character profiles. More often, however, I will use the outline as a tool once the story is underway and I have a better grasp of who the characters are and where the story is supposed to go. Sometimes this mid-point outline is more a way for me to reconnect with a story when I’ve run into a roadblock. It motivates me to continue writing and gives me a road map to continue my progress. It can also reveal any gaping holes in my plot line.

One flaw I’ve recognized in my chaotic method is that I often end up writing far more opening material, or back story, than is necessary as a way to learn for myself about my world and characters. This sometimes feels like a waste of time and effort, but who can really tell, until the story is finished, how useful that material will really be.

So there you have it, my crazy writing style that somehow works. Comments? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Happy writing!

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