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!