Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How I (Don't) Write -- Robin

I’m about halfway through writing my fourth novel, and I’ve noticed that the way I’m writing this one is much different than how I wrote my previous novels. Whether I mean to or not, I’ve been treating my manuscripts differently! (Bad Mommy!)

It’s similar to how my parents raised me and my brother differently. What worked for him, didn’t really work for me. And not just because of the he’s-a-boy-and-I’m-a-girl reasons. My brother was the type of guy who missed, like, one question on the SAT. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even find the building to take my SAT because the directions were so confusing and I was super late since my friends and I had to stop at McDonald’s for our hangover-relieving breakfast. Mmmm…combo #1.

(Sorry, Mom and Dad. But I still turned out okay…right!?)

Anyway, for novel No.4, I’ve been writing my first draft much more loosely. I’m moving along quickly without spending much time on description or searching for the perfect word. In fact, I often find myself writing things like (Insert: write about her feelings here) or (Insert: describe house) or, my favorite, (Insert: make this part not so stupid). As silly as it seems, this new technique is really working for me. It allows me to stop dwelling so much (which is not an attractive look for me) and just move along with the story at the pace my brain wants to move. And with this book, my brain feels like it’s in a drag race. Woo-hoo! Step on it, baby!

I was explaining this new technique to Eve the other day and she joked that, at some point, I’ll probably write (Insert: Next chapter here). Well, she was right! Yesterday, I got myself all psyched up to write a particular chapter, only to realize that another chapter needed to be written first. But I didn’t want to write that chapter so I actually typed the words (Insert: Next chapter here). So thanks, Eve. Your ridicule is now my reality!

So I decided to Google the phrase “how I write” to see how other writers handle the process of book-writing. Apparently Garrison Keillor gets up at 5 a.m., sits in an armchair, and types a chapter into his laptop. Then he prints it out, makes lots of changes in pencil, and types the final revised version straight into his computer…all before lunchtime! That made me feel ridiculous for not having wonderfully polished chapters completed before lunch, but then I came across this quote from Judy Blume: “The first draft is a skeleton…just bare bones.”

Aaaahhh. No wonder Judy Blume is still my hero.

(Insert: adorably witty ending to this post.)

- Robin


Wild About Words said...


What a (insert glowing adjective here) post. It was (insert past tense verb here) with truth. I loved the Judy Blume quote. It reminded me of (insert witty comparison here).

Thanks so much,
(insert name of world-famous writer here)

Rita said...

I call this the fill-in-the-blank method. My MS looks like Swiss Cheese.

It's actually not that different from Mad Libs, except you hope they'll be Good Libs, eventually!

Rita said...

(I actually wondered if this was what this post was going to be about, since I've been putting a lot of thought into this lately!)

Disco Mermaids said...

Swiss cheese is the perfect analogy. Love that!