The secret tool of professional writers

Yesterday morning, I’d done my research, carved out my outline. I was poised to draft.

Then, disaster!

Wrong battle

“The wrong side…”

Flicking through an Osprey book, I realised decisions in this novel would put my hero on the wrong – as in boring and possibly distasteful – side in a battle in book 2… or 3 (Project A is Medieval Historical Fiction, by the way).

Hero needed a different patron. A different nemesis…

With a whoop I dived into my research library (Yes a “whoop!” No angst here. I love this stuff. (Listen! In the UK, a common insult to indicate an incompetent is to say, “He couldn’t organise a piss-up (trans: keg party) in a brewery.” Imagine what an actual piss-up in a  brewery would be like.  That’s me in my book-lined study with swords to hand and Scrivener spread out across my 27″ monitor.)) I had a wild eight hours of ricocheting around the history books. Finally, it all fell into place. I even had three improved End of Level Bosses… but in doing so, I broke my outline.

So today I tinkered and researched, slotted everything together, built retinues for protagonist and antagonist, all woven around a matrix of pure conflict.

But the outline wouldn’t fix.

Family trickled home. Read Kurtzhau another chapter of Desert of Souls. Failed to go out for a beer.

About ten, I slumped in a chair, stared into space, and saw the plot squirm and open out to display all the possible futures of my story (including the ones with ninjas)… And here I am back at my computer. Plot fixed and ready to draft in the morning.

Now I’m thinking: I started work last week, and its Thursday now. That means I’m on Day 9 of Project A. Up until recently, I had just one (1) clear day a week to really write. On that schedule, it would already be March and I would have spent just over two months getting to this point. Worse, there would have been the genuine angst of expending each of those nine precious days on a problem that, in non-writing time, would seem insurmountable. And the horrible second-guessing of the original decision;

Should-I-cut-my-losses-OMG-It’s-been-so-long-my-brain-hurts… surely professionals don’t go through this?

Well, perhaps they – we – do. But right now I’m not because I have the fortune to enjoy the secret tool used by successful writers; Time.

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9 comments on “The secret tool of professional writers
  1. pajh says:

    > surely professionals don’t go through this?

    I thought we were all pretending to be grownups and hoping the other grownups don’t notice.

  2. Guy Windsor says:

    Yup. Same is true in every field, I think. Isn’t it grand?

  3. RymRytr says:

    Very nice layout! I always thought that WordPress was a very nice format.

  4. It’s actually quite tricky to organise a piss-up in a brewery as those buildings tend to lack pumps…

  5. Martin Page says:

    …obviously unable to find the tasting room.

  6. Phil Daniels says:

    Oh, the perils of full time writing! Ithink you’re enjoying it really!

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