The way that I write has evolved over time. When I started to write I simply got an idea, sat down at the computer and wrote a sentence. Frequently (not always) that sentence would automatically grow to two sentences. That would grow into a paragraph. And before I even knew it was happening, the characters were taking over and were using me to tell their story.
I’ve noticed that over the last couple of years I’m shifting toward a different approach. Now that Microsoft has released a Mac version of OneNote I have returned to writing using OneNote. Through trial and error, I have developed a system to keep track of characters and characteristics, points of contention between the characters, random thoughts to be worked into the story, snippets of conversations, and sometimes even a rough outline of the elements of the story. If I find a picture that works for how I visualize one of the characters, I toss that in there as well. OneNote is such a great tool for organizing large amounts of material. I’m finding this to work rather well for me since it allows me to build all the elements I need for a story separately and then weave them into the story at the appropriate point while keeping all of the items organized in the same place. I guess old dogs can learn new tricks after all. Woof.
When I do sit down to write and I’ve got something open in front of me and I’m really into it, I can write fast. I have been known to write more than 25,000 words in a weekend if everything has come together just right, although this is very rare mostly because I almost never get that option. The day job keeps intruding, thinking that it has priority over everything else.
If the characters are talking to me, if the plot has taken some good twists and turns, I can really crank it out. When I’m in a story, I get so totally wrapped up in my writing, in the story that the characters are telling me, that I block out just about everything else. My poor spouse will occasionally ask me, “Are you mad at me?” which used to confuse me. Then I figured out what was going on. I had to explain to him that no, I was not mad at him. I had simply been hijacked or kidnapped by really frisky characters that had a story that they wanted to tell RIGHT NOW! After many, many books he is beginning to understand that when I enter “the zone” that he can talk to me about anything and I will most likely not remember it afterwards.
Every writer has a different system, a different style, that works for them. And what works for one is not necessarily what will work for another. When I write, I’m as anxious to find out what happens next as anyone else. I can probably sum up my writing by saying that I write to tell myself stories, or better yet, to have the characters I create tell their stories to me so that I can write them down for you.