My Writing Process: Timelines

I must be a slow learner.  You’d think that after self publishing two stories (1 novel, 1 novella), I’d have figured out what works for me and stuck with it. But no – not me. In an effort to become a better writer, I’ve attended writers conferences and workshops. I’ve purchased books and followed different blogs. I was like a sponge soaking up everyone’s advice only to find out that what works for one writer doesn’t necessarily work for others.

Take outlining.  I’ve tried it – not once – but several times. Do you know what it got me?  A case of writers block. Following an outline literally sucked the fun out of the process. No matter how many times I tried to implement the “you’ll write more books if you outline” strategy, I failed miserably.

Acceptance.

I had to accept that I’m me – just me – and because I’m me, my writing style is governed by the things that make me tick.  In my everyday life, I don’t live by lists.  I may take one grocery shopping but chances are I’ll forget something on it and pick up three things that aren’t.   I’m not a planner/plotter, I’m a pantzer and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong. While an outline might rob me of my creative breath, a timeline lets me breathe easier.

I’ve accepted that I’m never going to write a story from beginning to end. Instead, I write scenes as they come to me. Most of the time they are in order but there are those times a character may get really excited and spout off about something that happens fifty pages into the future.

writer 1

Image:  Microsoft Word Clipart

This is where my timeline comes in handy. As I edit my story, I complete the timeline.  It allows me to visually see what’s going on. I’ve tried different writing programs but I guess I’m old school. There is something about the actual writing of the events on the timeline that solidifies the story in my mind. I feel like I am better able to identify inconsistencies in both the plot and characters.

If you haven’t found your process, a timeline might help. If you have, stay true to what works for you!

Happy writing!

-Deb

 

 

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8 comments

  1. I am a timeline devotee, too. I also learned the hard way… I record the events as I write them but sometimes seeing it on the timeline will prompt me to rearrange things a bit and move the plot along more smoothly. Super helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting reading….glad you have found a strategy that works for you, and I can see how it is useful in terms of keeping on track. I’m writing short stories for women’s magazines – I used to over-plan because I thought that was the ‘right way’; now I am confident starting with my character and a vague idea and redraft/rethink as I work – that works for me.. I plan using notes – a sentence of two for each scene. I’ve been to workshops but not any longer as I find it best to just get on with it, but blogs and hearing from other writers are always helpful. Thanks for your contribution!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why is it that we don’t trust our own feelings about our writing process and, instead, follow the advice of strangers who know absolutely nothing about us? Although I write in “order”, even when I know the writing is bad to the point of wanting to retch it into the garbage can, I must write from what I feel at the time, from my “heart” so-to-speak. Outlines make me feel that I’m doing a school class assignment that I have no interest in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just stopped by my blog after a long absence and saw your post. So sorry for not responding sooner – I was on a social media hiatus. But know that I appreciate your comment and totally agree with you on the outlines!

      Liked by 1 person

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