Last time we covered the concept of checking in with yourself, and others if you’d like, on how your writing is progressing. And as one of my favorite actors, Denzel Washington, said, “Dreams without goals are just dreams.” So how have you been at developing those goals? Do you have someone keeping you accountable? Since this post got delayed due to a hectic work day yesterday, how did you do on NaNoWriMo? If you participated, what were your take-aways from this year?
Choosing the path and allowing adjustments
The reason I thought of talking about how you approach your writing in a chronological or free writing approach this week is from my experience. I took the first big step out of my old way of writing and felt it opened up a lot of doors for me. In the past, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, I would sit down at my computer with a new story in mind and write from what I thought the first scene would be to the last scene. Even if I got the urge to write the climax, or midpoint scenes, I would resist. As I say in almost every post, everyone writes in their own way, so take the following recommendations as that only.
The first approach to writing we’ll address is chronological writing, which at its core is writing the story from the first scene in the timeline to the last scene. It still includes flashbacks because we all remember past events in current times. This is a simple A-Z storytelling, and most likely the same format you’ll publish your book in. The chronological method works great for plotters because it works better if you know where you want your scenes to go. A plot gives you a clear path and acts as a guide as you move from point to point in your story.
A drawback of the chronological approach, as mentioned above, is holding yourself back from the scenes or chapters you really want to write. Sometimes you can’t control the muse, your thoughts, or however you’d like to view your source of inspiration. But sometimes sticking to the plan keeps you from derailing your story.
Do you like to write chronologically? Why or why not?
Freewriting is a pantser’s dream. The free writing approach allows you to write the story however you’d like. You give yourself permission to roam the world you’re creating as if you’re playing an open world RPG where you get to switch characters as you please. But while the freedom is nice, you still need to maintain a goal in mind, and that is to finish your book. The side quests into that baker’s life, or the hardships of the banker up the street, to the rough and tumble life of a street kid trying to survive can be fun, but don’t let it pull you away from your primary goal. The pros in freewriting is the ability to work on what you want when you want, allows the story to change in drastic ways, and gives your creative mind an open door policy to put down as much as you want on the page.
One con of freewriting is that you can lose your way. Novels, and this also depends on the type of novel, are massive works that have so many characters and settings playing into the storyline, that if you focus too much on the outer elements, you’ll forget the core of your story. But you can counteract that by getting strategically distracted. Sometimes it will pay off, especially in a series, to know more than you publish in the first book because then it will be ready if you need it in a first book, but always make sure it ties back to the core themes and conflicts of your story.
Choosing the path you want to take allows a clear vision for your writing sessions and what you can expect from yourself. Going in knowing that you’re writing in a chronological order keeps you on track and your mind from straying toward too far in the future chapters. Setting the standard of free writing gives your mind permission to wander towards chapters and scenes that may not be next in sequence, but are fresher in your mind. There is no “right” answer for every writer, and so it’s up to you to identify your best approach. Check in next week for Gift Ideas for writers! Also, The newsletter will come out on Saturday, so be ready to learn a little about “Indiecember” and what you can do to support fellow Indie Authors.
Thank you for reading, and as always, keep writing, keep learning, and stay fresh, my nugs!
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