Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. I sometimes let my writing carry me into unplanned territory because that’s where my creative side is taking me.
But that’s when writer’s block hits me. I’ll go with the flow and then end up in a spot where I say: Now what?
David Farland says the main cause of writer’s block is when a writer doesn’t know the scene in their mind well enough to put it on paper. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I wholeheartedly agree. When I know all the intimate details of a scene in my mind, I can rattle off a couple thousand words without batting an eye. Stick me in a scene I hadn’t planned on and I might not write for weeks.
Now part of that is me needing to write through it. But I also need to sit down and go through the scene in my mind – look at it from different angles and the perspectives of different characters. I work best when I jot notes and then put the scene on paper with those notes in mind. The more information I give myself, the better I’m able to build the scene and put myself into the heart of it.
With book two of the Godslayer series, I attempted to do a bit more discovery writing.
Not working for the reasons I stated above.
So, down I sat with my outline. It had major plot points, but lacked scenes. And the scenes lacked any type of notes. Fixing that made a world of difference. This may not work for everyone, but it was like a weight came off my shoulders. I need to do pre-writing before I write. Otherwise I agonize about plot holes and end up muddling my way to nowhere. Productivity for me is about organization. Sitting down with a goal in mind (finish x amount of a scene or scenes) keeps me focused and ends up accomplishing more than I set out to do.
Sitting down with no plan ends up with me staring at the laptop for an hour.
Now the cool part is that I give myself freedom to go into uncharted territory. And I might even revise the outline if something cooler strikes me. But I need that skeleton. Heck, I need some skin on the skeleton. The more information I go into a scene with, the better I write.
So, how about you? Does planning kill your muse? Or do you need a bit (or a lot) of structure like me?