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.
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.
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!