My Writing Process: Falling in love and staying in love with my novel
From Freewriting to Editing
It’s easy for me to fall in love with my latest novel.
I love words. I’m an artist, so I let it flow. I love feeling the rush of inspiration, getting it all out if my system. Splashing the words on the page as my characters take over my mind and create their story.
This is when I fall in love with my novel. I’m crazy about it and I can’t get enough of it. I even think I’ll never be able to live without this burst of creative energy in my life.
It’s such a powerful high that I forget it won’t last (thank goodness it doesn’t, otherwise I’d be a bundle of unconstrained, nervous energy, which would burn myself out!)
While I’m in love with my novel I have no friends, or family, I drift through daily chores, even work, only living for the moment I can sit down and write my new story.
I usually do this by hand, once I’ve thought about and envisioned the scenes, but I soon move to the typewriter where I can easily bash out between three and four thousand words a day, sometimes even more, sometimes less; I can’t avoid all my other obligations.
This is the easy stage, often called freewriting.
The problem is it ends, and once I’ve fallen in love with my novel, I need to stay in love. Something has to remain after the mad rush has subsided (and I know deep down that it will eventually subside).
Can I do that? Can I sit down, read the thousands of words I wrote and love them after the frenzy? Can I be ‘reasonable and realistic’ and edit and shape it into a novel?
Can my passionate lover become my best friend? Can my idealized novel make it in the real world? Does it have a ‘real life’ outside of my obsession?
If it’s no, then it goes into the drawer for a time, or forever, who knows?
If the answer is yes, then I need to edit and shape the mass of unbridled madness.
This is painful. I have to cut out words and even whole lines, paragraphs and pages…
I’ve learnt my lesson after writing three novels. ‘Less is more’ and ‘simple conveys the most complex message effectively’.
As Kurt Vonnegut wisely told us: Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
He went on to expand that even every letter should fit the bill, and I agree. Every single word and letter should be there for a purpose. I’m still learning to do that, because I’m biased. All the words are mine and I love them all, cutting them out is painful, but I’m convinced it needs to be done either by yourself or with the help of another expert pair of eyes, such as an editor.
I have to plan it and often rewrite parts of it until it’s shaped into something I can fit into scenes, chapters and parts. I need to identify stages, plot lines, time sequence, turning points, climax, and so much more.
It’s like a first big argument between lovers. The novel drives me crazy with frustration and I know I either sort it out and we make it up, or we have to go our separate ways, because we can’t even be friends.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m falling in love with a new novel, and I’m in agony. I don’t know what’s going to happen… yet.
I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, does this happen to you?