Although fall doesn't officially start until September 22nd this year, the month of August always feels like summer's end to me. I think it's partly all the back to school sales; seeing those inevitable yellow cartoon bus signs plastered on a bin of file folders or hanging over an endcap of highlighters signals the finality of fun for the year (for me, anyway -- summer is my favorite season.)
This week I've been plotting a new work project that will keep me writing until the holidays arrive, and like any fresh story I'm completely in love with it. I want to start it so much I've been scribbling bits of dialogue and sketching characters and printing out research notes all week. Tomorrow I'm heading to the office supply place to acquire a new binder -- and I'm thinking of colors and how I want to make this huge, rich palette for the whole cast of characters, because they're all so different, and yet -- look, I can do this all day. My point is that I'm excited and thrilled and so enthusiastic about this story that I feel as if I could write the first book start to finish this weekend.
But: I'm not ready to write it.
Why? Not like I haven't written a book before, right? Plus I know what I want to do. I can even see some of it in my head. When I'm this worked up about all the sparkling beautiful parts of a story, it can be almost painful not to write it. But: I'm not a pantser, or a particularly organic writer. I'm a plotter who wants everything nailed down before I write a single word. I need the whole story, figured out, run through, mapped out and precisely detailed, and that I don't have down or done yet.
It doesn't sound like fun, and I know a lot of writers can't do the kind of prep work I do because it kills their mojo. I'd love to be a more organic, artistic writer, but I know me. When I do this I have to be very methodical, very focused, or I won't finish the project. I don't want to waffle or wonder when I'm writing because that derails me. I don't want the story to be a surprise. Fun for me is getting it done minus train wrecks or surprise parties on the page.
Knowing the kind of writer you are is half the battle, I think. Our blog pal LJ Cohen, who is probably my polar opposite as a writer, talked about how she works in this post. One thing she wrote should be tattooed on all our bods somewhere: "Don't let anyone get away with saying there's only one way to write a novel."
I know tons of ways to write a novel; I've probably tried at least half of them. I also know what works best for me -- the way that hurts a little in this glitzy in-love stage I'm in, but that will enable me to deliver. So I'll spend the next day or two finishing up my very detailed outlines of the plots and characters, and discuss them with my client while I do a bit more research and let everything percolate. Once I have all that done, I'll set up my novel notebook, sit down at the computer and write those two words that still send a little shiver through me, even after typing them sixty-seven times: Chapter One.
What have you got planned for your fall writing? Anyone thinking about doing NaNoWriMo? Tell me in comments.