There was a time I was adamant that I wouldn’t change the way that I do the things that I do, specifically in regards to my work and the way that I write.
Over the years my thoughts and opinions regarding my work and approach have changed.
Now I must say that this surprised me since I was quite set in my ways. As our personal experiences accumulate over time, it’s impossible not to change our opinion regarding certain things, even if we fight it. I believe it’s simply a natural part of growth and often we can’t help the change that unfolds before our very eyes.
Sitting at my desk, deep in thought, I started to map out a new project. I can’t speak for other writers, but I always know my beginning, middle, and end, prior to starting a new piece.
Will it change? Absolutely! Often the details that come to life during the writing process surprise even the author, forcing an unseen change in the original idea. Typically I write down the characters that I’m going to develop and bring to life, a quick synopsis of what I think the piece will actually be about, and potential twists that I think would be interesting or relevant and that’s it.
That day I realized I had mapped out an entire outline, thousands and thousands of words in fact. The outline flowed so well, that the piece should merely require fleshing out my characters and fill in a few blanks. Now, this process is not unusual for many writers, outlining a manuscript, but it is unusual for me. Outlining in such detail prior to the work itself is not something that I would normally do. That was the first thing I noticed that day, sitting at my desk, that I had changed.
When I actually started writing my new piece, I typed with the usual words running through my head, “Be the storyteller, tell the story, narrate the story and are you the tour guide?” I can’t work anymore without these words running through the back of my mind. I actually stop every few pages and say them out loud. These words make sense to me and came via my mentor. They are so important to me, especially while writing for children because I knew exactly what she meant and how those words related to me and my work.
That day I realized that my narration had changed, it was better, placed evenly and carefully between dialogs. I stopped working and actually asked myself, “Who are you today?” I didn’t recognize this organized writer. Instead of writing off the cuff, I had a very organized, concise plan. I knew the entire map of my book and it was going to flow so well, I could tell. My narration was flowing. Writers know when something works and when it doesn’t. The key is letting go of an idea for a manuscript when it’s the wrong time for that particular piece and it will not come together. That said, it doesn’t mean that down the road the author won’t go back to it and that it won’t flow beautifully at that time.
As a writer, I don’t believe writers should struggle in the moment, I think they should write the piece that flows easily.
I believe the storytellers have many pieces within, not just one. So fret not over one story. Simply write another. You can always go back to the piece you struggled with, maybe the time isn’t right, and maybe without consciously realizing it, you’re not ready to write that piece. I actually have one of those; 83 thousand words into the manuscript and I’m not equipped to finish it, yet that is. The key is that I know that. That’s growth.
I have grown so much over the years and I’ve actually learned how to embrace, appreciate, and develop the new experiences and techniques that I now utilize. There was a time I would fight such things, determined never to change the way that I write. I realize now that was inexperience. Change is good and growth is amazing. I can’t wait to write ‘the piece,’ the one that hopefully stands the test of time. I haven’t written it yet, but I believe ‘The Ghost of Whispering Willow,’ (release 2012) is one step closer than my other pieces. I can see the difference in the manuscript compared to my others, and I like it.
Who are you today?