RLH: The Epiphany
I'm an intuitive writer. Rather than "seeing" scenes in my head, like on a movie screen, I "feel" them in my gut. I am not the least bit analytical about my own writing or the novels I read. I "feel" if they work, but describing why or why not is a difficult task for me.
I learned years ago why I resist outlines, synopses, plotting, and/or over-discussing my story ideas. It's because writing, for me, is all about "the discovery." Just as a reader reads a book in order to learn what happens to the characters, I write my books to see what happens to the characters. When I work out an entire story on paper in advance of writing it, when I analyze and scrutinize, I quit wanting to write it. I get bored and restless. Hey, I now know the beginning, middle, and ending. Why bother with writing it? My imagination says, "Let's come up with a different story where we don't know how it all fits together."
For a long while, I thought this meant I was a bad plotter, but eventually I realized that wasn't so. It's just that I plot through my characters. I plot in little bursts, just enough to get me through the day. My subconscious is working way ahead of that, but I'm right here in today, enjoying the discovery.
I remember an epiphany I had a number of years ago at a writers conference. I noticed that I (a character-driven, intuitive storyteller) attended all the workshops on plotting. In the meantime, those writers who plot their books from beginning to end on little scene cards were sitting in workshops on characterization or putting more emotion into their stories. I thought we were trying to improve our craft, focusing on areas of weakness.
But then I realized something. While improving our craft may have been a side benefit, I believe we were actually trying to find an easier way to write our novels. If characterization is my strength, but writing is still so hard (which it is), then if I become better at plotting, writing will surely get easier. And I imagined that left-brained, analytical, plot-driven writer who is blessed with the ability to see her story from beginning to end thinking, "Plotting comes naturally, but writing is hard. If I can master characterization, writing will surely get easier."
The epiphany: There is no easier way to write a novel. They are written one word at a time, and those words become sentences and those sentences become paragraphs which become scenes which become chapters -- and suddenly it all becomes a book.
From then on, I began to accept who I am as a creative person. I create the way I create. You create the way you create. There isn't a right or wrong way to create a novel. It's the end result that matters.
Even after more than 50 books, I still sometimes think I must be doing it all wrong, that there must be some better and easier way to write than the way I do it. If I could just figure it out...
When that negative committee in my head starts tossing those feelings of inadequacy at me, I remember the epiphany at that writers conference. I apply the seat of my pants to the chair and my fingers to the keyboard, and I create as God created me to create.
Robin Lee Hatcher does her creating from her home in Idaho. Her upcoming releases include A Carol for Christmas (Zondervan, Oct 2006) and Trouble in Paradise (Steeple Hill, Feb 2007).
Web site: http://www.robinleehatcher.com/