Sometimes I wish that when I’d decided to write a novel ten years ago I’d stuck to it rather than get distracted and not even think about writing for years at a time. But then it’s always been at the back of my mind, and even when I’ve had other plans I’ve always been thinking “…and then some day I will write my novel”.

But I think that there have been a couple of advantages to this. If I’d been really dedicated to writing since day one there’s a lot of life experience I would have missed out on. I don’t think it’s possible to learn to write stories just by writing stories alone.

The other advantage is that I’ve taken this long to develop my own writing process, and I don’t think I’ve finished yet. I’ve had to overcome a lot of squeamishness of “that’s now how you’re supposed to write a novel” to figure out what process best suits my strengths. I have a slightly OCD compulsion to write in certain patterns, and then everything must fit that pattern, even rounding off chapters to the nearest hundred words, and it’s not very good to plan anything this way. Earlier on I planned chapter length by a sort of wave pattern before even knowing what the story was about.

It’s much better for me to use the opposite part of my brain, the chaotic and random side, to start writing a story with no goal or pattern, and for the logical part of me to then look for a cohesive structure to bind it all together. And once that structure is set, abandon everything I’ve written and start writing chaotically around that new structure, and then form a new structure out of this new chaos, and so on. So both sides take turns, though not necessarily in a structured ABABAB way.

I should write this on a t-shirt because even now I’m trying to constrain things to structure beforehand rather than as an afterthought. I’m glad I wrote this entry because I wasn’t fully aware of my own writing process until I had to write about it.

The first novel I ever started writing was ‘like Jurassic Park but with sharks instead of dinosaurs’. I wrote a paragraph and gave up. The second was inspired by the name in a mock-ballot form, John Galaxy of the Broccoli Party. I wrote at least ten thousand words in his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ adventure. He killed a monster with dental-floss. The monster’s name was Gherkin. I just realised that this incident sounds like a dental awareness campaign.

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