As I wait for the impending release of Ruby Among Us (Jan 2008), I work furiously on my second novel. One thing I have learned about the second one is that I am pretty much writing it using the same process I used for the first one.
At first, I tried to be very organized. I fought it and thought about trying things like outlines and index cards. After wasting a few months where I didn't write anything that I felt was decent, I tossed the index card idea out with the outline that never really materialized anyway.
I just don't write that way. Here is my way, and to some of you it might sound crazy, but it works for me. I write a few pages, I go back and re-read them and self-edit. I write a few more pages, I go back and read them, then edit them. I do this all the way until the end.
Call me strange if you want to, but it really does works for me. By the time I'm finished, I've read the manuscript from beginning to end repeatedly. And the really funny thing is that my agent says I'm fast!
I have a friend who loves to outline. And I've heard others who say they lay their note cards out in line and rearrange them in the scenes they want before they even write a chapter. Those people must rock. That is exactly how my husband would do it if he were a writer.
But he's not. I am the writer in the house. I'm also the one who doesn't see the point of straightening up my sock drawer or color coding my shirts in the closet. But like my mom says, it takes all kinds. If my husband was a less organized person, I'd really be in trouble. If I was like him, I wouldn't write the types of stories I write.
I'm sorry to draw wisdom from such a loose comparison, but the writing world is sort of the same. It takes all kinds of writers and thank the Lord we don't all work the same.
I think I'll keep writing as I always have. Write it, read it, edit it, and start over. I guess I spent too much time in the south last month because the best way I can say it is, if it isn't broken, don't fix it (that's a variation of If it Ain't broke, don't fix it, but as a writer I can't write it that way!).
The point is to be yourself. If writing is a new adventure for you, then by all means take a look at the rules and get ogranized. Terry Whalen at The Writing Life is a great resource and there are others.
We all have to follow some rules and be organized, but for me I've also learned not to fight my voice. It works best for me to write like me and comparing myself to others simply stifles that voice.
Tina Ann Forkner has recently contracted with Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House, to publish two novels. The title of her first book is Ruby Among Us. To learn more, visit her website at http://www.tinaannforkner.org/ or her blog, She Plants a Vineyard, at http://www.tinaannforkner.blogspot.com/