Maria, known as MariaSweet on Twitter, is 22 and will graduate with honours in International Journalism the 16th of July this year.
She is addicted to reading, dancing (in the sense that she’s had numerous classes, including ballet, since she was a kid) and she loves to write. She hopes to one day be a published writer.
She takes an active interest in the publishing industry and is looking for an editor’s internship within any publishing house. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy, paranormal, YA, MG, historical romance and romance. She will also, for research or if it’s funny, read children’s books.
She, like many other writers, loves listening to movies scores when writing. Such as the Harry Potter scores. And she has a problem that a certain amount of famous writers have had: a drinking problem. Don’t worry, in her case, it’s just extra strong coffee and herbal teas like peppermint tea.
“How I write” by Maria
How do I write? Personally, my writing process has not changed much since I was about 5- 6-years-old, but it has changed shape and form and solidified more in my late teens, around 16 to be more precise. Each person has a writing process unique to them, and they pretty much stick with it and that process might or might not share some similarities with someone else’s writing process. That much is common knowledge, so to speak. Some people can even change writing styles at some point in their lives. Not so for me, at least so far.
I recently found out what I’m called according to my writing style courtesy of Myra McEntire and her first VLog (which can be found here: http://writingfinally.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-first-vlog-no-foolin.html). I’m a pantser, which means I fly by the seat of my pants. I am not a plotter: never have been, never will be. I have been ‘accused’ of being an organizational freak, a decent researcher and methodical in a wacky sort of way—yes there is definitely a method to my madness—but never of being a plotter.
I will write, write, write until I am done and disregard overall word count or chapter word count. At the end when I start editing, I will cut words, starting from 20,000 words all the way to 50,000 words, if not more. It depends on what length the book/novel needs to be, not to mention useless scenes and ones that make absolutely no sense or don’t mesh with the rest of the material. My characters, as Myra says, boss me around and have free rein. As much as that annoys me sometimes, hey it works. So who am I to argue against it; if the character wants to have a stupid name, for example, then he’ll get it, as I am not inclined to try and fight it—I’ll end up losing the fight anyway, so what’s the point?
I also lose momentum or interest very easily due to the way I write and get inspiration. In addition I have somewhat of a low attention span. If I don’t get all, or at least some of the pieces of the story, I can’t write a thing. I don’t care if you sit me in front of the computer or give me a pad and pen for the whole day; I will not write. I’ll just find something else to do to occupy me, like read a book, and the idea(s) etc, will come when it/they come.
Proof of this, for example, is when I did homework or had to read a really crappy and boring book for school—that really wasn’t something I’d normally pick up to read—I’d simply pick something else up, cover the text and make up my own brand new stories to go with the pictures that were in it. I particularly favoured illustrated books and occasionally children’s picture books. I’m sure I’m not the only one who used to do this. Now that is something that used to entertain me for hours on end, its great fun! I still do it actually and one of my favourites was/is the Bible surprisingly, or not depending on how you see it, as it has some stunning illustrations…
But I digress…
To get back to the point, the whole pantser situation is secondary and comes after what is the core –the essences as it were- of my writing process. I have a very odd way of writing. It comes to me in little bursts, in dreams when I sleep, even when I daydream. I could be anywhere at any given time and my muse will just sing to me and that’s it. I will grab the closest napkin, piece of scrap paper –anything that can be written on and is in/resembles the form of a sheet basically– and a pen and will write it down. It’s like putting a puzzle together and to most people I appear mad and rude every so often, especially because I get all flushed and excited –especially if a particularly long time has elapsed since the last time a piece revealed itself to me (I hope Victoria Schwab will not mind me using that term as it’s very apt!).
At first, I thought that all the teachers that tried to “beat it out of me”, belittling me and telling me that I am not smart enough because I wasn’t a plotter —if I had a penny for every time one of them said ‘I will make a proper plotter of you yet’ I’d be filthy rich by now— must be right. I mean why don’t other kids/people write like me (I know: naive, thinking that I was the only one but I hadn’t encountered up until now anyone that spoke of their writing process and style openly and sincerely and I was just too shy to ask).
I tried hard to do it numerous times, I honestly did but I failed at it just as many times; I’m just not a plotter. It really doesn’t work for me; it restricts me, frustrates me to no end and makes me cranky and unhappy. Not to mention I just blank out, cannot write a word worth a damn.
So thanks Victoria, Myra and all the other awesome writers like C.J. Redwine for showing me that there is no right or wrong way to write. You do it how you feel most comfortable and what is more productive for you personally. Plus I feel tons better that I’m not alone in my ways (Victoria’s VLog can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyl9Zt9XxU8).
I don’t get the pieces of the puzzle in the right order either. My writing is very erratic and I need to piece it together when I’ve gathered all the big/small pieces by creating the in-fillers, all those in-betweens that provide the skeleton that will hold it all together along with the pieces that will make up the flesh of the story —‘the puzzle pieces’—; and will help everything stick together more solidly. For example, I could get a major scene of the story/piece of the puzzle or something as small as the image of a single card from a Tarot Deck that signifies something important for the story. There’s no set way. Then I begin to refine my plot, break the chapters down more properly, and reposition the scenes etc, yet again so I can find the right order to make them fit better. What comes next is the word cutting, the language correcting, cutting out unnecessary expressions, etc. I could end up with as many as ten drafts on some occasions! And that’s what works for me.
It’s a slow process and it means I can write only one book at a time with a few short stories on the side, etc.
One habit I’ve really kept since I was a kid, and have been trying to break because I really regret having done it, is/was burning/destroying and generally getting rid of every single story I’ve ever written about a few weeks after I’ve finished it, because it just was/is not good enough. I’ve started and dropped many manuscripts that way, because I realised there was no plot or it was one big cliché or even when there was a plot but the story was just not going anywhere and it was as dull as watching paint dry.
As a matter of fact I personally think that watching paint dry would be marginally more entertaining than reading some of the stuff I’ve written. Plus I was only a kid and not exactly an expert at it. The reason I did/do it is because if I keep them I dwell on them and keep obsessing about it which is really not healthy… It’s still the start, I need lots more practice and I’m not saying that it might not change or evolve in different ways in the future but at least I’ve learned to accept and use my writing process/style to my advantage and even have fun with it.
Next time on “How I write”: Courtney Reese will blog about how she writes.