Don’t Look Back

Guest Post By Melody Carlson
I’m so thankful that we’re
all different, and I completely respect that writers have so many varied styles
and techniques for their craft. And for that reason I feel somewhat apologetic
when I talk about exactly how I
write. Especially because I know my seemingly haphazard methods really do
baffle some authors. Over the years, I’ve made no secret that I’m truly a
seat-of-the-pants writer. It’s just the way I work. I write extremely quickly
and I rarely outline—while I’m in a project I run fast and don’t look back. As
a result, besides knowing that my novel will get from point A to point Z, I
seldom know all the twists and turns I’ll encounter in between. It’s kind of
like deciding to drive from LA to New York without planning all the stops along
the way. Sounds like a good time to me!
And
it’s exactly this kind of spontaneity that keeps the process of writing fun and
lively for me. It’s as if I’m experiencing the story right along with my readers—and
I totally love that. In fact, I would even call this technique one of the
biggest reasons for my success. And I know it relates directly to my longevity
(more than 20 years of professional writing) and my productivity (more than 200
books published). Yet at the same time, I know many other successful authors
who would kick and scream and pull out their hair if they were forced to write
like I do. Vive la différence.
            I suspect I’m just wired to be impulsive and spontaneous—probably
because I’ve been like this since childhood. Seriously, I was the girl who’d
leap first and look later. Need I mention that I dove from rock cliffs into
mountain lakes, or swam across a crocodile infested river in Papua New Guinea?
But never mind that, I’m talking about writing now. And although I’m aware that
my unstructured writing techniques can seem crazy and risky to some, I do
believe there are some valuable tips I can share with many novelists.
            Over the years, I’ve met so many struggling fiction
writers who, while striving for perfection and excellence, cannot turn off the
‘editor inside their heads.’ Now I don’t want to undermine the importance of
good editing—I completely appreciate my fine editors! However, I do want to
remind writers that editing is best performed after the work of writing is completed. I would much rather see an
author muddle through a story and reach the end, than to get stymied and
waylaid over whether a particular scene or character or even a historical fact
is quite right.
You
can always go back and fix those things later. In fact, it’s much easier, not
to mention much more efficient, to adjust those elements after the story is finished. Because after your tale is told, your perspective is broadened and you are
far more objective and confident. Sure, you still might need to toss that first
chapter. No big deal, lots of authors do that all the time. Or maybe you need
to rethink a particular character or change the setting locale or even the era.
But once you have a completed work, it’s so much more natural to make these
changes. And besides streamlining your work, you have a finished book! How good does that feel?
So
what am I saying? That every author should turn into a seat-of-the-pants writer
like me? No, of course not. You still need to respect who you are and your
particular writing style. However, I do challenge any of you frustrated writers
to go ahead and ‘fire the editor in your head’ (or at least send that editor on
sabbatical) and then I encourage you to push yourself to write a little faster
and to produce a little more and to run a little harder—without looking back—until you reach the finish line. And then and
only then, do you go back and edit. At the very least it will be a good
exercise in letting go…or it might open the door to a more fulfilling and
enjoyable writing experience for you.
Check out Melody’s
writing style in her latest release…RIVER’S END
In the final story
of The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna Larson’s granddaughter Sarah is beginning to
find her independence. But her relationship with her parents suffers as a
result and she travels away from all that is familiar.

While the solace of the river calls Sarah back, surprises await upon her
return. Three generations of family heartbreak and disappointments converge at
Shining Waters as Sarah finds God right in the center of it all.