I have not yet published anything, but I thought I would share a few things I have learned in my writing journey.
I have read that professional authors use outlines, so I need to use outlines. I tried to use them in a variety of formats with no success. Might be my personality. I used the outline more like a list to check off. Yeah, it kept me on track, but it also felt forced. And so did the story it generated.
I have found a stream of consciousness “outline” works best for me. What’s that? A Word document I throw all my thoughts and ideas into. Snippets of conversations, things I want to have happen, and a vague direction of the story I can solidify as I write. This worked well enough I was able to write a 55,000 word story in about 2 months.
Part of why this works well for me is because my first drafts are so skeletal. I tend to underwrite and need to go back and flesh it out. Add deeper descriptions, let you see more into the character’s thoughts, expand transitions so they aren’t so abrupt. These notes remind me of those details.
Clearly, your mileage may vary. The “outline” each author needs, I believe, is as unique as their personality and writing style.
I don’t really need as much time to write as I say I do. I want more, yes, but I have managed an almost complete, including revisions, manuscript in just over a year. I have 2 failed attempts at other novels that I may rework into different stories. I like the story ideas, they just didn’t work for the male lead. And I have managed a full rough draft of a new manuscript. All since January of 2015.
Plus, I started this blog in January 2016.
Only having an hour or so to write a day forces me to focus. It also forces me to use time more efficiently (I am writing this during breakfast while I watch the kids play). It also means I write almost daily as I won’t have “make-up” time later.
A Writer Does Not Write Alone
This is something I am still working on. Storytelling started as a group affair. People sitting around a campfire at night and making stuff up. It made the stories richer, better.
I tend to be very self critical and not want anyone to see my work until it is polished. But I have seen that my stories are better when I talk about the characters, their motivations, and what’s happening with one or two trusted people as I write. They offer another perspective and help make the story deeper. This is especially nice in the early phase of writing as it tends to reduce rewriting.