Writing Phases

Sooo for the last two weeks I’ve been using index cards to record ideas. I’ve filled a lot of cards. A Lot Of Cards. I’m now at the stage where I want to write words to make sense of this stack. But I’m worried about ‘starting too soon’, i.e. coming out of planning and going into drafting before the idea has fully materialised. Yet my gut says write so what do I do?

I was thinking about this yesterday on a long walk, and realised that I put too much emphasis on the different phases of writing – Planning, Drafting and Editing. A lot of writers seem to work neatly through these three phases, but I suspect I’m not one of them. Looking back to books I wrote before trying to become more productive and therefore breaking myself, I was planning, writing and editing all at once, all smooshed up into a ball. And I was a definite headlights writer, which means I knew the general gist of the story and a few core scenes, but planned each chapter as I came to it. I didn’t finish a rough first draft and then go back and edit, but rather I spent 3-4 months on a kinda okay draft, took a break, then went back in with fresh perspective until I felt I could go no further on my own. Then I sent off to critique partner(s), and then I worked with their comments, and then I polished until I thought it was done. 

There it is right there – my process. When I write it out, it seems so clear and obvious. I should sticky this post for my own future reference. Right now, though I’m loving the ease and flexibility of using index cards and my dictaphone to record ideas, I’m feeling a bit bewildered as to where to go next. My gut tells me I need to pause, take stock of the cards I have, and get some of it onto Scrivener, then go again… So yeah, that’s what I’ll do. But the trick is not allowing my brain to call it ‘the drafting phase’. There are no phases. The only phase for me is the ‘create novel’ phase, and then maybe later on the ‘send novel to people’ phase. (Oh, and lastly, ‘publish novel’.)

K. Deep breaths. I’m stalling for some reason. Maybe I’m afraid to return to my desk and sit in front of the blank screen, because it reminds me of miserable sessions of writer’s block. Maybe I’m afraid because now’s the time when I take my vision for the story and start mashing it to mulch. Or maybe I’m afraid I’ll fall back into old habits, setting daily targets, ‘first draft’ deadlines, forcing myself to write even though I hate every word, and pushing myself back into blockage. 

So what must I do? Remind myself that this is not the end of Planning and the start of Drafting. Those things don’t exist anymore, not to me. It’s all just one big gloop.