This is some of the best New England Clam Chowder around. Found at Sam the Clam’s in CT. Delish.
But no two clam chowders are made with exactly the same process. Everyone has their own way of getting to that perfect chowder.
I’ve found the same thing with novel writing. My first manuscript, I had a page of character outlines and a 12-page plot outline. And then I just dove into writing. At each chapter, I’d stop and outline the things that needed to happen and the scenes necessary for this to occur.
A very stop and start writing process. But it worked and I completed a draft.
A very very very bad draft that required many many rounds of revisions.
So next book. I wrote a 40 page outline. Um yeah, very detailed. But it made the writing easier because I had a GPS navigating my way to the end point.
Next book I tried a different approach. I spent weeks just daydreaming and imagining everything. Then I wrote a 4 page outline of the first 50 pages. Once I got those 50 pages written, I wrote a 5 page synopsis of the whole book. Then the query letter. Then I wrote the rest of the book in fits of 15-20k words.
The first draft turned out better than my others. Still needed edits and revisions. But the bones were laid out in the right order.
And as I wrote, I did light edits on the previous 2-3 days’ worth of writing. Some people frown on this.
For me, it helped me move forward. I can’t if there’s a fly buzzing around my head saying “Fix it!” Plus, when I’d get stuck on inspiration, I’d edit the previous day and as I came to the end, I’d know what came next.
I don’t know that any of these ways is universally the best. One might be best for me or for that book. But the point is each time I ended up with a delicious bowl of clam chowder.
So how I got there doesn’t seem as important as the fact that the method got me there.
What about you? Do you have a tried and true method for writing? Are you an outliner? A pantser? An edit-as-you-go or a strict-no-editing-until-the-end writer?