I just can’t let “W” go by, without talking about how much I love writing. I have, ever since I was in grade school. English was my best subject, all the way through, from my very first class to the day I graduated. Both literature and composition. I have been telling stories my whole life.
So how lucky am I that I not only get to do what I love, but I also get paid for it.
When I write, I lose track of time. It could be ten in the morning. It could be ten at night. Sometimes I don’t even stop to eat. I am that engrossed in what I’m doing. I’m unaware of what anyone else is doing. Or saying. Or even if they’re talking to me. It’s like I’m in a trance. A world of my own. I find it very peaceful. Calm. It’s almost like a meditation. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Now to be completely honest, sometimes I don’t look forward to getting started. Some days I’m just not in the mood. And so I might procrastinate a little. But I have never missed a deadline, so I put if off for only so long. And I’m the same way with my blog. I know I have to publish a new post every day, and there is no way I am going to miss one.
Because being a good writer, a successful writer, is as much about discipline, as it is about talent. I take the writing I do for
myself as seriously as the writing I do for clients. So again, I put it off for only so long.
And what happens next is always the same. The minute I’m a couple of sentences in, I’m totally involved in whatever it is that I’m writing. Loving it. Caught up in the story. And the fact that, just a short while earlier I may have been wishing I could take the day off, is already long forgotten. Like it never happened.
Every writer has a different way of working. I don’t know, when I begin, where the story will take me. I don’t write an outline first. I have a topic, or an idea. I’ve written some of the story in my head. Almost like a rehearsal. But once I’m in front of my computer, anything can happen. I wouldn’t want it any other way, actually, because it’s way more fun and much more interesting for me. Like a little adventure.
It’s always worked out, so I don’t question it. Or angst over it. It’s the way I work. At least as far as my blogs and my new business initiatives go.
With my book, I do have a chapter by chapter outline I follow, which is very helpful. It keeps me on track. So I know what all the chapters are going to be (which puts everything in a logical order). Which can change, by the way; and has, in fact. And I also know what subject matter I want to cover in each chapter. But that’s it. How the story unfolds, happens while I’m writing it. No pre-conceived ideas.
Client work is a bit different. There are very clear business objectives, strategies and goals that must be met. There are brands that must be respected. So copywriters aren’t just let loose. We get written briefs that guide us in the right direction. Which, contrary to what you might think, I find very liberating. There is a lot of freedom in knowing what the boundaries are and how far you can, and cannot, go.
But still, even with a formal brief, I still don’t know how it will all unfold until I’m staring at the screen and I type that first sentence.
There are writers who write a detailed outline first. Like a roadmap or a script. I can’t do that. Well, maybe I could. But I don’t want to. It kills the surprise for me and takes all the fun out of it. Makes it too mechanical.
The spontaneity is what I crave. And I also love the ‘conversation’ I’m having with the people who will be reading my stories. And the conversations I create between the characters I’m writing about. I love engaging people. Catching them by surprise. Capturing their imaginations. Grabbing their attention. Inspiring them. Making them laugh. Making them cry. Scaring them. Exciting them. Enlightening them. Moving them. Hopefully making it easy for them to find themselves in the story.
At least I hope that’s what I do.
Finding just the right words to capture the spirit of what I’m trying to say, is another of my favourite writer jobs’. Which is probably why the dictionary and the thesaurus never leave my side. I do use online ones as well, but I love having the books beside me. Thumbing through them gives me great pleasure. And so does editing and polishing my work. I won’t go into detail about it, because I’ve written a post on that very subject already.
Then, once I’m finally satisfied, there is one, last ritual I must perform. I have to read the work out loud. I have to hear it. Sometimes, I read it three or four times. And you know what? Nine times out of ten, after I’ve heard it, I go back and change it again. And maybe again, after I listen to myself read it one more time.
What can I say? It works for me.