Finally, after five to six months longer than it should've taken, I finished my current work in progress. Book 4 of my Jenna's Creek series, though still untitled, is now with a proofreader in the final editing, polishing stages before I send it off to my publisher.
So why did this book take so much longer to write than it should have? What was the problem? I already had the story line. I pretty much knew what was going to happen and to whom. I had outlined extensively and done all my character studies months ago. What was the hold up?
While outlining is probably the more efficient way to write, for me it takes the fun out of writing. Without the daily discovery and anticipation, I have no passion for the project.
That probably reveals what an undisciplined hack I really am, but it's true and I'm tired of apologizing for what works for me. I am a dyed in the wool seat-of-the-pants writer. I don't go totally blind into a project. With a few exceptions that have turned out pretty successful, I usually know where I want to go. I'm just not sure how I'm going to get there. I know a little about my characters. But I learn more about them as the story progresses. I can't do elaborate character sketches about how my character would react if he won the lottery because I don't know him well enough from page one.
It's a process of discovery. I probably don't even know how I'd react if I won the lottery. I like to think I'd keep my head and not turn into a complete horse's behind or drug fiend, but who knows. Who really knows how one would react in extreme situations.
It's okay if you don't know everything about your characters or your storyline before you start writing. Write a sentence about what your story is about. Then a paragraph. But if you don't have an in depth, 200 page, chapter by chapter summary, don't despair. You can still write a great book. You might even love the process instead of feeling like you're back in school writing a paper about something you don't even care about.
However you decide to work, learn what works for you. Maybe you need the extensive outline to be productive. Maybe you work better with a rough sketch. Play around and figure out what works for you. This is a job. It's work, even though a reader told me today that I don't seem to have any problem cranking out easy to read storylines.
If she only knew...
Regardless of what works for you, just do it.