I highly recommend popping over to Routines for Writers today and reading Kitty Bucholtz’s post on “When Shouldn’t I Write?” Funny, but she’s talking about some of the same things I wrote about yesterday.
Kitty also takes on one thing that consistently bugs me about how writing advice or classes are phrased, no matter how good the material is. Far too often, the word is “must,” as in “you must do it this way.” There is no one true way and my way of writing is not your way of writing which is not her way of writing, which is not then his way of writing, etc., etc. We are all individuals and our paths to telling our stories are all different. Sometimes, it’s far too easy to allow yourself to get caught up in the “I must” to the point where you freeze because what you want to write is instinctively moving in a different direction.
I’m a pantser. One important thing I learned at the RWA conference this year is that I need to own that fact and work with it, not against it. I can do plotting boards until I’m blue when I’m trying to plan out a book and for me it’s a bloody waste of time. What I need to do is start writing — and I need to start writing on that big scene or key moment that’s driving the inspiration. Just go with it. Then, the next moment and the next, even if they’re considerably after or somewhere before that first moment for me. (Scrivener makes this possible for me, but singing the joys of that software is for another post.)
I know this method would drive some people crazy and I will admit I have driven down more than one blind alley in the process. But I’m also in the middle of a Camp NaNoWriMo project that is some 30,000 words strong and I’ve got most of my core scenes done. The rest of the month is going to be figuring out the connective tissue that binds everything together. That will help flesh out the rest of the book and also begin the revision process because as I figure out those connections, I’ll start to see where bits need to change. It’s working and I’m happy with what I’m seeing form on the page.
The title for this post is a reference, of course, to Frank L. Baum’s classic series, but it’s also a phrase Jenny Crusie and Lani Diane Rich use in their Writewell Academy classes. The advice is good, the classes are only $10, but the acknowledgement that the student should take what is useful to them and walk away from the rest if it doesn’t work is good advice. Writing opens up a world a possibilities; why limit ourselves by saying there’s only one way to create this world, even if it doesn’t work for everyone?