Concrete Detail

Erika Hayes, Author – Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!


I am sharing a peek into my writing wall.  I use this wall to help me plot out my story.  Notice the massive use of Post-Its.  I like sticky notes because they are not locked in.  I can move stuff around toss a scene, change the players, update or add things I need to keep track of as the story emerges from my fingertips.  I never thought of myself as a “plotter”.  I like to have a kind of idea where I am going and then writing whatever happens.  I have read several books on plotting.  One of my favorites is K.M Weiland’s Outlining your Novel.

I previously confessed my love for organizing, so it makes sense that I would read the book as well as use the companion workbook.  I have, and while there are so many things I love in the process, I found most of it works, but I still like that pantser side of me.   I like to go off script, it is part of what I love about writing.  As a by the book kind of person in the real world, writing allows me to be a little less by the book.  I can go where I want to go, do what I want to do, and the only people I could possibly hurt is the characters I have created.  When I read Outlining Your Novel the first time I was searching for a system, method whatever you want to call it do guide me into finishing a book.   Part of the biggest problem with pantsing is you can spend a lot of time writing a lot of stuff that ends up on the cutting-room floor.  Realizing that I needed something to stop me from the aimless waste of precious writing time, I decided I needed to combine my love for color coding, organization and stay true to my pantsing writing style the birth of the writing wall. I also love that everytime I walk into my writing space the reality of my book is right there.  It says “butt in chair, and write!”  I can see, that scene needs to be written, I can see how close I am to the end as well as keeps me organized to see where my characters are and what they have done.  It keeps my timeline in order as well.

Did I mention I like systems?  Oh if not, see this post about focused planning for writers. I have notebooks filled with exercises and notes from several books and webinars that help me become a better writer  using another’s system.

Here is the problem, and something I have learned from another great writer and teacher, (Gabirela Pereira (more on this fantastic person to come.)) that I need to honor my process.  While each book I have digested and worked through there is nothing they can do to improve my book if I use them to avoid writing it. If I am always seeking a system and not writing then I am not honoring MY process.  At some point, a writer must stop planning and start writing.

Sharing my wall is like sharing deep inside my mind.  This wall is where I decided to bring together the things that work from all those books and finalize the direction of my book.  It is freeing!  When I  decided to pull the things from all those methods, systems and whatever else and FINALLY got all the sticky notes up on the board I realized honoring my process, is about learning to use what works for me, and to just write.  Hear this if nothing else.  The only way you will ever write a book is to actually sit in the chair and write it.  Pantser, Planner or (what I think is best) a combo of both you can only read so many books on how to before you DIY!


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