There’s a profound difference between making something up and imagining it. You’re making something up when you think out a scene, when you’re being logical about it.
----Andre Dubus III
|Admit it. You write because you like the dream state. Image: Caden Crawford|
Next week, we'll go through a 30 minute planning and if it feels good for you, you may want to work on taking on more planning activities.
Or, because it's not particularly extensive, it may feel just right for what you are working on. But if feels terrible to you—wrong, even—then it may simply be not conducive to you or your project.
Nothing wong with that. Especially if you are a genre writer, you might feel pressured to plan because many of these books are rather conceptual. That doesn't mean you need to plan, though.
Similarly, literary writers are often trained not to plan, but to dream. They can be told that planning is somehow losing that dream. I think that it's important to note that we have different brains, different chemistry, different ways of thinking and seeing, and not to feel like we necessarily must follow the rules of whatever we are writing.
I began to learn characters will come alive if you back the fuck off. It was exciting, and even a little terrifying. If you allow them to do what they’re going to do, think and feel what they’re going to think and feel, things start to happen on their own. It’s a beautiful and exciting alchemy.
----Andre Dubus III
It is valuable to look at those rules, though, to try them out, see how they work, and find out if they are helpful to us. If they aren't, then we can try something different.
We can look at different genres of storytelling, different plot structures, and at different types of writing: non-fiction, poetry... technical writing? What are they doing; what can we borrow? We can freewrite and restructure to what fits best to our own sense of the story.
If you suspect I am going to ask you to read the article I keep linking to in this post in which Andre Dubus III talks about his process of imagining, you're right. I think it's lovely and I definitely believe that the novel is a complex structure that we are all trying to build—a 12-story building, he calls it. And he allows it that complexity by clarifying that the dream approach is not dreaming all the way through. He talks about what the dream state is, when plotting actually comes into the the story, and authenticity and receptiveness and the daily ritual of writing,
There is a lot in this article. Please read and let me know what you take away from it. What do you think your process is like right now? I'd like to know.
Thanks to Sonny Bohanan for passing this article on to me. I knew I would use it eventually.