• Christiana

New Year, New Writing Process

It's 2020! We made it!

If there is one thing that the new year always brings, it's resolutions. Most of us make all kinds of lofty goals for ourselves that we usually abandon before the month is out. I really only made one this year: to finish this book I've been writing for the last THREE YEARS.

I learned a lot about myself toward the end of 2019, namely, that the whole "Pantser" style of writing that I have always been so proud of just isn't working for me any more. Writing by the seat of your pants may seem thrilling -- and I'm not denying it can be -- but for me, it's resulted in two entire drafts of a book that are going to have to be scrapped completely. All that work, wasted.

I mean, not really. I do ascribe to the belief that no work is ever wasted. Writing is a skill that has to be developed. Every little bit you do makes you that much better. But just thinking about how much further I'd be if I had taken the time to learn how to plot a story makes me want to cry. I thought I couldn't do it. I was terrified outlining would suffocate my creative flow.

I was wrong.

If I only knew then what I've learned about plotting now, I might have finished writing this book ages ago. I might have moved on to that new project that's been singing its siren song to me as of late.

But siren songs must be ignored because I am not ready to give up on this story. This is MY story to tell, I can feel it in my bones. Even though it bares little to no resemblance to my actual life, deep down at this book's very core, it's my story. It's everything I've gone through, everything I've wrestled with in my life, dressed in 1920s clothing and given a complete makeover.

So what's next? After NaNoWriMo finished, I followed Stephen King's advice and put the story away to rest so that I could come back to it with fresh eyes. I gave it a total of six weeks, and now I'm diving back in, slicing and dicing, paring it down to just the very basic kernel that I want to keep, and I'm starting over.

I'm following the Three Act Structure, as laid out in K. M. Weiland's Creating Character Arcs -- a book that changed my life and my writing process forever. I'm mapping out my story. I'm adding key scenes and details that finally came to me during NaNo. There will be no cutting and pasting. I'm literally starting with a clean slate and a blank screen numbered page one. I'm giving myself until the end of March to have the book completely rewritten from start to finish, so I can give it to Beta readers and revise in April, and hopefully have it ready for the Pennwriter's Conference in May, to show to the interested agents who will be back this year! The business cards they gave me hang above my desk to keep me motivated.

So here's to the new year, the new decade, the new you, the new me. It's our time to tackle those goals, writing and otherwise, and make our dreams come true.

What's your goal for 2020? Tell me, so I can root you on!

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