Let it Go!

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Everyone has a different approach to their writing; we all know there is no “one right way” to write. I’m still working on finding the perfect process for me, although I think it is probably a lot better than it was a few years ago – or, at least, it is more structured now.

But I still find there are some aspects of the process that I don’t enjoy, or that I find a bit more of a chore than others. I haven’t managed to get a lot or work done in the last couple of weeks. Partly this is just due to “life/work stuff” that has had to take priority but also because of the stage of writing I am at.

Prep!

Prep is that stage of of my process that I like the least. It feels like a barrier stopping me getting to the next stage of actually writing the project; getting the screenplay on the page. We all want to get to the screenplay and start writing, anything that gets in the way is an inconvenience. I want to get stuck in rather than worry over specifics about locations or characters, plots and scenes.

So what gets me through and keeps me working on prep, even if I do slow down a bit?

Well, I tried leaving it out on a couple of occasions early on. I tried going straight into writing for two ideas, thinking I knew the story and could just write the screenplay. One is still only about 30 pages long and the other, first draft, came in at just 70 pages. What I found was that, without prep, I really didn’t know the story and realised there was a lot missing from the screenplay that had been rumbling around in my head, not quite fully formed.

Basically, I ran out of steam.

However, the “experiment” helped me understand how important prep was (for me) in getting the story blueprint ready before I started to hang words on my ideas. It made me realise I HAVE to prep my projects so I can be sure I am doing justice to the story when I move on to writing it. Perhaps that is why I struggle with it; I HAVE to do it! Of course, once I am writing the screenplay, I realise how important and useful the prep was in my process and the frustration fades as I plough through the writing stage with a lot more ease than I did without it.

Similarly, in the past, I haven’t been best friends with the index card method for plotting scenes and acts. I tried to force myself to use it on a number of occasions because I had read that was THE way to do it. So I left that out for a couple of goes around and, guess what? I found that I don’t have to use the index cards when plotting a story. For me they just didn’t work, but it didn’t stop me prepping a story; they were just part of a process I didn’t need and probably made the prep process easier for me in the long run.

Of course, everyone is different, and you may not need to prep in the same way, perhaps you CAN go straight to writing? Perhaps you find index cards to be the ONLY way you can prep your story?

Ultimately, what I am trying to say is, just because you have read about the writing process and what should be involved, or your writer friends do something in a particular way, it doesn’t mean you have to do it the same way. Experiment. Change things up. There is no one way to write so, if you find something isn’t working for you, let it go and see what happens! You might find something you can throw away or realise the importance of something you struggle with.

And anything you do discard can easily be reinstated if you change your mind in the future!

Not only do writers need to find their voice, they need to recognise their method.

Are there any parts of your process that you struggle with, that you wish you didn’t have to go through?

Have you tried leaving them out to see what happens?

Feel free to comment below and let us know if you do try letting something go in your process.

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Posted on September 16, 2015, in Prep, Writing, Writing Rules and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I find the whole process a balancing act. If I pre-plan too much, I end up with something sterile. If I plan too little, I may never suffer from writer’s block, but there’s a chance I’ll end up with nothing coherent.

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  2. Hi Edward, sorry for missing your comment, I didn’t seem to get a notification for your post! But I completely agree. I think there is such a thing as “too much” preparation and one of the skills I have had to develop as a writer is knowing when enough is enough and I have sufficient prep to write the story that is in my head. As you say, if you don’t have enough, you may stall part-way through the writing but I have also found myself getting bored with projects where I have written, rewritten and rewritten a treatment so many times as to almost come to resent the work! As I said, there is “no one way” and we all have to figure out our own way. If a few projects don’t quite work as we figure this out, it may be frustrating, but I also think you are doing the right thing.

    Good luck and keep writing!

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