Clarion West Write-a-thon week 2: Changing your mind

Writing Desk 2
Part of the 2020 Clarion West Write-a-thon series! Sponsor me, sponsor another writer, or learn more about the Write-a-thon

I know, I know, it’s week 4, but this is my week 2 essay, because I’m behind. My excuse — do I need an excuse? I don’t know, it’s the middle of a pandemic, do any of us really need an excuse for anything?

My original plan, to make my Write-a-thon project a draft of Book 4 in the Tales of the Rougarou series, was because I had just given a draft of Book 3 to one of my trusted First Readers (Hi, Carol) and thought I would work on Book 4 while she was reading Book 3. A few days into the Write-a-thon, she came back with comments, and I made note of them and thought I would continue to let my subconscious mind tumble them over while I worked on Book 4.

That lasted… about a week. Then my subconscious mind started tugging on my sleeve to say, actually, we’ve digested the comments and we’re really keen to start working on fixing them, please. Hello? Anybody home?

For a few days I tried to ignore the tugging. “No!” I told myself. “We’re going to write what we were planning to write! What we said we were going to write! You know, like a responsible adult!”

“But,” I also told myself. “But I have this goal of getting Book 3 out before the end of the year and is this really the best way to go about making that happen? Maybe I should just, you know, change my mind about what I’m working on? Isn’t that also responsible adulting? Priorities?”

And then, with a sigh, I gave up and turned around and said, to the little voice tugging on my sleeve, “What? What have you got to say?”

Quite a lot, it turns out.

I’ve talked before about my iterative outlining process which is more or less a hybrid of the pantser/plotter model. I start with an outline — a narrative outline, not chapter-by-chapter — then start writing. Whenever I get stuck, I go back to the outline level and tweak things there, then go back to writing, see if that unsticks things. If it doesn’t, I go back to the outline level again.

“Going back to the outline level” is a fairly important part of this,

For example, I came up with a new outline a few days ago, spent much of the weekend testing that outline to see how it worked, hit on something kind of big, then revised the revised outline and now I think I’ve got it.

But have I got it?

I don’t know yet, but I’m eager to find out, and I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?

I’ll leave you with a picture of my writing space as it has evolved:

Writing Desk 2

Some people commented last time that it looked a bit weird and scary, which, you know, I’m pretty okay with. I’m not sure if the addition of the lights and the prophecy box make it more or less scary.

Next time: I’ll explain about the “prophecy box.”