Thursday, October 15, 2009


With a few stalls along the way, I have spent the past two months steadily plugging away on a novel for adult readers. I’m in the middle of the story and I seem to be stuck. It is not cause for panic or despair yet. Concern? Sure.

I love reading interviews and attending author readings to learn about their writing process. What I have learned is there is not a right way to write—although some authors give me the impression that they are so married to their chosen process that they feel it is only way, not just for themselves but for others.

Maybe it’s because I’m a tangential thinker with adult-onset Attention Deficit Disorder, but I believe the process has to feel organic to the writer and to his or her particular project. Process can change—sometimes must change due to unexpected factors—along the way. Often (note, not always) when I write, the characters come first. Then a problem comes to mind and I jump into writing the first draft. When I try to be more disciplined and outline the story, I often feel the energy drying up. For me, the journey is led by the characters and changes course from my initial, loosely conceived vision.

The genesis of this project came during my four-day drive across the Canadian Prairies and Northern Ontario. I kept my microcassette player on the dashboard and recorded the flurry of ideas as they came. It was an exciting process that fit my circumstance and I couldn’t wait to sort through the ideas once I could sit down at the cottage and open up my laptop. Not all the ideas were great; after all, I forwent hotels and “slept” in the car. Catnapped might be a better term.

For this novel, I even knew the ending and the basic story progression before I began. I thought I was ahead of the game and would skirt any of my typical feelings that the story was dragging in the middling section. Alas. Despite a little more forethought in planning, I am in familiar, unpleasant territory where I am trying to regain story momentum. I think this is the point where some authors abandon a project or shelve it for years.

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