Embracing the Chaos

I’m not sure why, but I really struggle with titles. I know some writers who come up with the perfect title for their stories. Some use a key theme from the story, while others rely on some clever pun that they then work into their narrative.

But I suck at titles. Even for something as (seemingly) simple as this blog post. Nearly every one of my blog posts starts its life as “TBD.” Each week, I worry that this will be the week those letters become the permanent name of a post. One of these days, I’m sure, that’s precisely what will happen.

I’m still plugging away on the project I started during that at-home writing retreat. I haven’t made the same kind of progress each day, but I’m consistently hitting between 500 and 1,000 words for each writing session.

The bigger problem is that I’m not getting to my computer to write each day like I’d planned. But I’m writing often enough that I’m staying connected to the story and the characters. I think that’s key to keeping momentum on the project.

Although I still haven’t published a novel, I’ve published a couple of short stories and written enough that I’m starting to be better attuned to my writing process. As much as I wish it weren’t the case, I’m pretty sure I’m on the extreme pantser end of the pantser/planner continuum.

I’m about 22,300 words into the first draft on this story, and my gut is telling me that a lot of what I’ve written so far will need to be cut. Right now, I’m rambling on the page as I try to figure out who each of my characters is, what they want most, and what their roles in the overall story will be.

It’s a slapdash way to write a story, but I know I’m not alone. Recently, Carol Newman Cronin crafted a guest post on WriterUnboxed.com that talked about the pantser approach to writing. It was refreshing to see that it’s possible to publish well-liked books with such a messy writing process. (If you’re a pantser, I recommend reading it when you doubt yourself.)

Earlier this week, one of my co-workers at the library said she hadn’t realized all that a writer goes through to write a story until I started talking about my writing process. She’s since listened to writers on TV or the radio talk about their work, and she now has a more nuanced understanding of what it takes to craft a book.

I hope I haven’t ruined the art of storytelling for her. But I know I never gave a thought to how much work goes into a book or short story until I started taking my writing seriously. It’s a lot harder than people realize.

A landscaping crew started prepping our back yard for a new patio this morning, and I’m more than a little distracted by the sounds of demolition. Since the writing part of my brain is doing its best impersonation of a dog seeing several squirrels, I’ll end this post and start getting ready for work.

(Photo by Frida Bredesen on Unsplash)

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