I find with writing, that each step is a rollercoaster of emotions. For every excited step you take forward, you crash down with block. Every moment you feel exhilarated, the next you are shrouded with self-doubt.
I used to think I was weird, after all, I’m living my dream aren’t I? But after talking to a lot of other writers, it seems that this is the way it is, part of the process as it were.
Ever since I published Mother Ruined last summer, I have been farting around with the next book in The Survival Series, but what with the whirlwind of republishing everything it got put on the back-burner, and then when I got chance to revisit the plot I came up with last year, I realised how much I’ve learnt. There was no way it was going to cut it.
So right now, I’m back at the plotting stage. A stage, where at the beginning, I am filled with excitement and love. Because for me, my plots tend to come when I’m not writing. They tend to come when I’m sitting and reading, or people watching, or just drinking and eating crisps (this is totally a proven part of the job, I haven’t made it up so we can stock pile ruffles and pink gin).
While we were in Spain, I was on top of the world and my brand new notebook was positively BRIMMING with ideas. I’m not saying they were all good, I mean, some of them were pretty pants – the one about the woman who moves to Spain and does nothing but eat bacon ruffles and drink wine and pink gin for example. Not sure how I could make that into a proper plot.
I digress. Yes, so I came back from Spain my notepad bursting (yay meant I got to buy a new one!) and I was READY. TO. GO.
SEE READY TO GO.
So I sat, with my laptop in every single room of the house, and I tried to compile my notes for not only Dottie, but the millions of other stories I want to write. But I’m out of practice, so I clunked along blaming the room, my cup of tea, and my brain, and I managed to write a two page overview to send to my publisher.
They got back mega quick, and weren’t keen.
My initial reaction was oh arse. But after a few ‘FUCK WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE NOW?” moments (and texts to friends) I was grateful for their rejection. No plot should be clunk worthy so early on. I’m not saying that it won’t have clunks, that you don’t struggle, I often find putting the first sentence on the page one of the hardest things ever. BUT it shouldn’t feel like a job at the stage where you’re meant to feel excited.
So I got drunk (not intentionally actually, it just worked out in my favour) and then I woke up at 3am and thought and thought. Then I thought some more. Then I fell asleep and I woke up with a sore jaw where I’d been clenching it. BUT I HAD AN IDEA.
The idea came from their feedback (they are AMAZING with feedback) and I was able to start the next stage of my plotting process. I can take the idea that I want X to happen to character Y, and I can start playing the What If game. This is a tip from my lovely writer friend who comes up with the most amazing plots.
So I started that, and then I started to write a new plot. Because that’s what I do. I don’t use a template, I don’t use a specific way of doing it, I just brain dump my idea, and sometimes it flows into a story outline, and sometimes it ends up with me writing “SCREW YOU” and storing it in the actual ‘screw you’ file in my dropbox account.
I’m not saying the outline is perfect. There’s a lot of SOMETHING HAS TO HAPPEN HERE – PERHAPS ADD MORE GIN? And MUST CHECK IF CHARACTER ACTUALLY EXISTS IN FINAL MANUSCRIPT OF LAST BOOK, that sort of thing, but it makes some sort of story. Even though I know what HAPPENS at the end, I’m not 100% sure about how it actually happens at stages, so that needs to be filled in.
So while I’m sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for feedback (while my confidence in what was a flowing plot dwindles by the second), I need to crack on. Otherwise by the time they get back to me I will reply with NO WAY AM I WRITING THAT HEAP OF SHIT IT’S HORRIBLE.
So I’m doing the next bit, and starting to actually write it.
That’s right. I can no longer fart around, I need to get the first draft written, because after all, I can reassure myself throughout that the first draft is always shit. IT’S ALWAYS SHIT AIMEE REMEMBER THAT.
Then what? Well then I start farting around with moving shizzle around in making the broken shell into something magnificent. Or at least funny enough to read with your gin.
Speaking of gin, I’ve just slipped into WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES IT, so pass me some so that I can quickly slip back into brimming with secret pride.