Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis


Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Relearning an old writing lesson

Jake Lake once said that he liked to write a book over a period of no more than 3 months. For that long, he said, he could hold the whole plot in his head and he didn’t lose things. Longer than that, and bit and pieces started to fall away and he had to work a lot harder to get the story down. At that time, the idea of writing a 3 month book was absolutely crazy to me. I couldn’t imagine ever succeeding at that.

But then I did. I learned he was right. For about three months, maybe four, I didn’t have to worry about taking a ton of notes on where I was going or what the characters were up to. I could hold the story in my head. In writing that speed, I kept the pacing sharp and I also had a lot of fun. I never felt bogged down in a scene, because the scenes went by too quickly for quagmire. If they didn’t, that meant the scene had a problem.

I learned this lesson. It’s hard, because writing that fast means discipline and sticking to a schedule. It also means the words damned well better flow. One truth for me is that the words tend to flow better when I stick to a schedule, get sleep and exercise, and I eat reasonably health. I feel energized and creative.

However.

My son got sick and that took a lot more out of me than I ever expected. Part of it was having to go to the neverending doctor appointments. Part of it was having to watch him suffer and being helpless. Part of it was trying to be strong for everybody in the family, and especially my daughter. And it kept going on and on. Still is, really, but at least he’s improving.

Anyhow, my creativity grew thick and dense and unwilling. Writing was more miss than hit and I did fewer and fewer words as my schedule fragmented. I have no regrets–I was and am spectacularly happy to be available to the kids when they need me. Not everyone, not even most, can do that and I can and I have had no problems making them my priority.

I ended up having to reschedule my books and give myself much longer to finish them. That meant that I was going to plan for six months rather than three months per book. While that has been necessary, it has also made a difficult creative process even more difficult. Because I feel like scenes lag because I spend more time on them. I feel like I lose the character voices. I feel like I lose track of what I wanted the story to be. It’s infuriating.

In the fall the kids (both!) go back to school. I hope to regain my routine and hopefully my production. I hope to dive deeper into the creative ocean and live in it more so that the story will flow better. I have a lot of things I still want to write.

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