Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scouting for footholds...

I have never been one of those writers who can just sit down and write. You know who I mean, those people who “think with their fingers”, the free writers… I can’t even stand to just sit and type what I’m thinking!

If I were to get up each morning and sit down at my keyboard and free write for ten minutes, it might go something like this:
I have no real idea what to write today, but I’m going to sit my butt down here and type about my book until I get good and warmed up, even if.. I think I forgot to press the BREW button on the coffee pot, damn it… well… too late now, I set my egg timer already. It’s much too soon in the day to break my own rules. Speaking of egg timers, eggs sound really good right now… hmm.. I think that last thing I had to eat was that chicken snack wrap yesterday afternoon… that’s probably not very healthy. If I don’t eat better I’m gonna screw up my metabolism, at least that’s what mom tells me… speaking of mom, I should call her… I haven’t talked to her in a while… Maybe I’ll ask her to lunch this week. Maybe I’ll invite her to that new Cajun… crap! Write ABOUT THE BOOK, CASEY! Okay, about the book, the booookkk… soooo I’m thinking about maybe having my main character… oh you know what I think my villain maybe … um… suddenly there is an asteroid plummeting from the sky!!!
That is ten minutes of my life that I will never get back.

I think Ernest Hemingway said it best, in his quote:
“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

If I’m expecting to climb Mount Manuscript, I’m going to bring my climbing gear, and I am not going to start climbing until I scout out my footholds. That is my route to the top. :) Especially as a newer “climber”, being less experienced, I don’t trust myself to go wandering around on that mountain side with out getting completely lost.

I usually have a "scene snapshot", that consists of about a sentence description of what comes next:


Its one line, shortened as much as possible, just enough to remind me what direction/emotion my story is heading in this next bit.  I write this line at the top of that days composition note book page (I keep a fresh composition notebook journal for each project.) and then I mull it over as I wait to fall asleep.  If I have any additional thoughts about the scene, any ah-hah! moments if you will... I jot them quickly on the comp page below the scene snapshot. 

I have been doing this for a little while now, and I really has doubled my productivity! I am happier with my writing day, and enjoying it much more.  I wake up excited to get to the WIP that I have been gearing up for all night! 

I would like to point out, that this is not the same as an outline, but it has some of the same benefits. :) It is, quite possibly, the best of both worlds... a harmony of outlined preparation, with discovery writing fun!


If you like this way of writing, I recommend reading Rachel Aaron's Pretentious Title (she has many of these styles in her toolbox, plus her blog is fun to read.)


  1. LOL. My Mom says this post reeks of A.D.D. :o)

  2. Hi,

    Just discovered your blog through Lydia Kang's blog. Intrigued and wanting to read more, so I hope you don't mind my following your blog, it's just so interesting reading and interacting with writers across a variety of genres :)

    Kind regards

    Mark K

    1. Hello Mark!

      I'm glad to meet you!

      I agree, I only recently began blogging and connecting with other writers online myself! I had no idea the world that was out there! :) Its fun to network with other writers... I find it very inspiring. :)



Grounding the reader using "The Pyramid of Abstraction"

In my geekery on writing education, I have stumbled upon a concept introduced in both of these sources by Brandon Sanderson (whom I have ...