Sunday, November 8, 2009

How I Write--sorry trees

When I write a story I always write it out longhand first. More times than not a story starts as a scribble on the back of a receipt, a napkin, or random piece of paper I happen to find laying around. Later I write the story out onto some honest to goodness lined paper (or the back of another manuscript, which can get confusing.) After I've written and crossed out and drawn little doodles all over the handwritten story and can barely decipher it anymore I finally break down and type it up.

Of course, I'm not finished yet. I'm not a writer with the super human ability to write things once and be done with them. Not by a long shot. I print the story out. Then come more lines and scribbles and lots of arrows, and circles, and, unfortunately, more doodles(doodles mean I'm procrastinating.) Once the manuscript gets too messy, again, I type up the edits. This process can go on indefinitely depending on how the story is working and how incessantly picky I am.

And do I throw any of these doodled up papers away once they're typed up? Of course not! You never know, I might need something I wrote on one of the pages(you did see that I write new stories on the back of old manuscripts, didn't you?) Inevitably I end up with a huge amount of papers for each story which I file away in my trusty filing cabinet named Ralph--you never know, he could throw up a good idea at any time--bah dump dum.

Now that I'm working on my YA I'm feeling like I need to do something different. I'm still writing longhand for the most part. I'm still printing things out after I revise and am re-revising them over and over again. I am still still writing other things on the backs of my manuscript pages. *sigh.

I don't think I can possibly keep all these pages. Ralph will have to get a new friend just to hold all the copies.(I could name him Chuck. I'll have to put him up on Ralph.) Or maybe this is a time to start doing things differently. Do I really need all those old pages after I've revised them?

Today I started a notebook just for my YA. I don't ever do this(Maybe I was inspired my the shiny new notebook I wrote PiBoIdMo on. I've only written a few non-picture book ideas in that one.) My notebooks tend to be a free for all with whatever idea I have at any given moment mingling with old stories and ideas. Instead of writing random thoughts on the manuscript pages I'm going to put them in the notebook. Okay, I might still put them on the manuscript while I'm working, but I'll transfer them to the notebook. Really. I will!

I've also made some documents on my computer to save the scenes I cut. I think I can be organized and not have to go through reams of paper to find some thought I had way back on printout number 23. I've got pages, and chapters, and am experiencing new printer problems I've never had to deal with. I've written other longish works, but this one dares to plan on being the longest to date. It definitely is going to take a new plan, and unfortunately, quite a bit of paper. I will have to plant a tree just for this story.

So I'm wondering, how do you deal with your manuscripts? You're probably much more organized than I am.

1 comment:

  1. My "system" is actually quite similar to yours. On any given WIP, PB or YA, I write probably half of it out longhand and build the scene out when I'm typing it in.

    I have two WIPs in the same notebook right now, and it's killing me. I started one at the front, and the other at the back. It won't be pretty when those worlds collide. :)