Thursday, April 24, 2008

Start Your Engines, and Write Your Way Home

When I was in high school and taking a driver's education class, the instructor looked at me one day and said, "You know, I think you drive better in reverse." It was the day we learned three-point turns, and I took his comment to be a compliment.

In writing, I've learned that some of the same principles apply as in driving a car. You have to start your engine (listen to your muse), have plenty of fuel (possess a command of language), and recognize the important signs that control traffic (know how to use punctuation).

You have to know when to turn up the heat and the time to cool things down. And you must be willing to take adventurous detours. But you also have to be able to make a neat three-point turn in narrow spaces.

I've often thought about my driving instructor's comment and considered how I apply that same skill to others areas of my life, writing included. Yes, I sometimes write in reverse. I often find that I have to justify my personal assertion that writer's block does not exist--or that it doesn't have to exist. So, if I hit a roadblock, reach one of those 'no thru traffic beyond this point' signs in my story, I must choose an alternative. I either have to find a detour, or I jump ahead in the story, then write my way back.

And I have to say it works. Every single time. I may not know where I'm going next, but I know where I want to end up. So, I jump a plane (so to speak) and get to the destination. Then I figure out my way back to where I left off.

Is this the ideal way to write a novel? Nope. Is it a way to write past the roadblocks? Absolutely.

You're skeptical, I can tell. Go ahead, give it a try.

Go, now, and write something.
.gnihtemos etirw dna ,won ,oG.

Whichever way works best for you.



Infogypsy said...

Great suggestion, Linda - I've been thinking that about a lot of things in life lately - i.e. around finances - I'm stuck in not enough income and so I'm just taking actions, one step at a time, not really knowing the outcome - and for sure with writing, when I'm stuck, I just go write something - doesn't have to be linear on in chronology - in fact, I wrote my 2nd book with various scenes all over the story line and stuck them together! judi (lynn romaine)

Anonymous said...

I agree, great suggestion! My stories come to me in pieces,like a puzzle. I have to put them in order. Unfortunately, sometimes a piece gets hidden under the sofa for a while. So I work with what I have.

Anonymous said...

I'm a linear writer and therefore enjoy writing as the story unfolds to me. It becomes as much of a surprise to me as it does to a reader. If I hopped over obstacles I doubt my short memory would allow me back in line. lol, Carol

Strong, smart, sensuous heroines, heroes to die for.
Carol McPhee: