Writing Notes: Starting Fresh, Every Time

I’m a planner in every part of my life save writing. With my
stories, while I may have a vague idea of an opening scene or the
synopsis, I honestly have no idea what I’m going to write when I sit
down to start a new story. Or a new scene, for that matter. A friend
asked today for “insider information” on one of my serials, and I
couldn’t have given it to her even if I wanted to, because I haven’t
written that part yet. All I could give her were guesses…the rest is
still locked up in my subconscious somewhere, and odds are good I won’t
see it until I’m typing it out. 
Last week
when I sat down to start a new story, the only things I knew were the
title and that one of the characters needed an Irish heritage (far
removed, because I’m too lazy to research how to write an authentic
Irish accent). I had no character names, no back story, nothing. Just
the title and a wee bit o’ info to go on (I’d apologize, but ya’ll
should be used to that by now).
A lot of writers would be a quivering mass of
anxiety about now, curled up in a corner in the fetal position, repulsed
by the nice, crisp-white screen staring them down.
Me…not so much. I welcome the blank page
with open arms (or fingers…you know what I mean). When I get ready to
write a new scene, I re-read the last section I wrote, and then just
pick it up from there. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know what to
write…I just start writing right where I left off. It’s not nearly as
mystical as it sounds though – it’s just that in reading what I’ve
already written, I tap back into the story my subconscious mind was
telling me when I quit writing last time, and the story starts going
again. If it doesn’t start playing again in my head, that means my
conscious mind is still in control – which is almost never a good thing.
Normally it means I’m fighting the direction my subconscious wants to
go. There is no way to win that fight, by the way. Either I give up and
just go with it (which is the right answer 99% of the time), or I fight
it and struggle with the whole scene to make it fit the direction my
conscious mind thinks it should take. I rarely regret listening to my
subconscious, even if it takes a ginormous leap of faith at the outset. I
often regret listening to my conscious mind regarding a story. My
subconscious nearly always is better at storytelling.
Yeah,
I know some people call that a “muse”…for me, it’s just that area of
my brain I can’t consciously control. I can’t bring myself to give it
anymore power by naming it.
When I’m starting a
new story, my conscious brain likes to screw around…organizing a new
file, creating new chapters/scenes (structurally speaking), pretending
I’m actually going to plan the story…
But
when I’m actually ready to write, the only thing I can do is just relax
and start typing whatever comes to me within the very few confines I’ve
given myself. In most cases, my subconscious has had the title and
either a character or scene to ruminate on, and while I have no
conscious idea where the story will go, if I just trust myself and start
typing, the story will come out. Sometimes I’m even lucky enough to get
a glimpse of things to come while I’m writing.
Not
to brag or anything, but my subconscious is much smarter/better at
being creative than my conscious self. As long as I let the sub. lead
(which puts a new spin on things, doesn’t it now?), it’s all good. Fight
the sub, things get ugly.
That story I
started last week? Just three hundred words in, I knew the main
character’s name, what she looks like, her basic back story, and what
her character arc would be (roughly). I also knew what the hero looks
like, and what his role will be in moving the heroine along the arc she
needs to travel. And I know the basics of what types of conflict is in
store for them. I even checked Google to see if her name needed to be
changed for an Irish heritage – nope. Turns out Breanna is an
Americanized version of an Irish name (Brianna/Brian/Brenna) – so it’s
perfect to denote a far off Irish ancestry along with her red hair/green
eyes.
To access all that, I needed to start writing.
It’s like turning on a tap – and after it starts flowing nicely, I can
more or less turn it on or off at will until the story is done.
People
ask me all the time how I work on so many different projects at
once…and that’s how. I simply turn on the tap for whatever story I’m
currently working on by re-reading the last bits I wrote, and when I’m
done for the night, I turn that tap back off.
You
know what that means? Apparently, my brain is a bar, with all sorts of
different liquors ready to serve up, depending on my mood.

I don’t think life really gets any better than that.

What’s on tap in your brain?


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