Earlier this week, I was catching up on my Writer’s Digest and read a really good article with ten tips when you are writing a novel and get stuck in the middle. The article was well written and had some great advice. However, I was struck by the realization that not one of the tips applied to me.
For a moment, I set down my Kindle (yes, I read it electronically) and stared at the wall. I’ve written over 40 novels and not once did I get stuck in the middle. In fact, I have never written a novel from first “page” straight through to the last “page.” I also don’t think of my manuscript in terms of pages…but words.
I’ve always claimed that any writer who thinks of their manuscript in terms of “pages” is a newbie. Seasoned writers go by word count. After all, if I want to beef up the size of my work, I can simply increase the font size of my text and VOILA! Suddenly I have a 1000 page epic novel. 😀
So word count is a more consistent unit of measure. Most novels should be 65,000-75,000 words while novellas tend to be 30,000-40,000. Works that ring in with a number in-between is at the mercy of the reader to decide what to call it. (ha ha)
But something else struck me. Years ago, when I wrote on my Selectric typewriter, I DID write from start to finish. We really didn’t have any other way to do it. Technology has made my job much easier because I like to jump around. Some chapters might be more difficult to write so I jump ahead and keep writing. I’ll finish one chapter and then return to others. I might get an idea in Chapter 17 that requires me to add a hint in Chapter 8. See? It’s a fluid, not static, process.
I simply cannot visualize any writer going straight through their novel, knowing that on page 240 they want a certain scene but they are stuck on page 100. That was a real example from the article.
That image blew my mind.
This confirmed something to me that I never considered: I have truly evolved as an author. My writing process is so different from years ago. I do not labor over outlines or ideas. I let God talk to me and help me write my novels. Of course, when I do have an idea, I know the general storyline, but, just as in life, you simply cannot plan everything. So when I write, I let the words flow from my fingers as I bounce around in my head and on my laptop.
I never really thought about how other authors approach the writing process. That article, however, helped me realize that not one size fits all. I’ve managed to create my own process that works for me. I hope to share it with other authors so that they can pick and choose aspects of my method to adapt to their own.