Writing On the Fly Can Be a Time Waster

All right, this isn’t an excerpt; it’s an observation about writing technique. That’s something I typically offer on my other blog, Views from Eagle Peak. But there is enough in this observation that I will bend my own informal rules.

Procrastination is a predilection I suffer from; over time (haha) I have learned how to subdue this demon time waster. Sometimes it’s a subtle thing, seemingly not there at all but actually lurking in the background of an otherwise apparently productive endeavor. How so? I began writing a novel wrapped around a concept offering what I believe is a great hook to start the story. I put off outlining a plot, a story arc or even (oh no!) an ending. Things went well enough for 20,000 plus words written over a period of time interrupted by (genuinely important) other tasks. Finally, however, it became increasingly difficult to proceed. Not writers block, but a loss of direction. It’s seldom good to edit as you go along. I found myself doing that. In reality a sort of procrastination because I didn’t know what came next. I didn’t know what came next because I never finished thinking the novel all the way through. Winging it seemed OK until it didn’t. Maybe others can do it. Reportedly, George R. R. Martin doesn’t outline A Song of Ice and Fire (the series on which Game of Thrones is based). Given the complexity of those books (I have read all of them published so far) I cannot imagine how that could be possible. If it is true, his mind must work very differently than mine. My solution came in the obvious way, reaching out to my muse for help. As the source of many story ideas, I knew I could trust in her assistance. Sure enough, she offered a couple of subplots to advance the story and thereby create the arc necessary to get to an end that had been escaping me. With an end in sight and the plot lines apparent, it’s now just filling in the details and the words are flowing again.

Are you able to write on the fly? Or like me, have you found it necessary to have at least destination and a path to get there in mind?

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2 thoughts on “Writing On the Fly Can Be a Time Waster

  1. I’ve wasted more hours than I care to admit by sitting down and writing with no objective and no outline. Now I limit ad hoc writing to snippets saved in Evernote that may or may not be worked into an outline later on. Glad to have the affirmation from your article.

    1. Thanks Susan. Interestingly, some people on Writers Hangout in LinkedIn feel comfortable winging it. It’s knowing what works for us that matters, whatever that may be.

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