A couple of weeks ago, I met an author at a north London party. My husband was quick to tell him that I too was an author. He looked the part in his tweed jacket and sumptuous silk scarf. I, on the other hand, was wearing a polka dot dress, a black leather jacket and knee high Dr Marten boots.
We began discussing writing and he asked what I wrote and how I went about the process of writing. “I write contemporary fiction and crime,” I told him. “And I’m an organic writer.” I couldn’t quite see his facial expression in the semi-dark room, nor could I hear any nuances in his voice over the sound of the live band. But I sensed he was unimpressed somehow.
Undeterred, I told him that the beginning of a novel usually comes to me when day-dreaming or doing something mundane like washing-up. I jot down character details and start writing. Very soon I know the denouement which is always satisfying. What is terrifying, however, is that I don’t know how to get from start to finish.
As ideas that come to me I plot out on a mind-map, but sometimes the ideas don’t come. Panic. Occasionally, I think that perhaps I should give up and start something new that would be easier to write. But the characters of the WIP fill my head with chatter and ideas until eventually I see my way through the fog.
This suave-looking author, however, plotted every minuscule detail before writing. He knew every curve, dip and high the story would travel. I felt so inferior to him I wished the band would play even louder to drown out the possibility of further discussion. Needless to say, he came across as a highly intelligent man, using his knowledge of neuro-science in his novels.
Thankfully, I was soon saved by the hostess of the party wanting to reacquaint me with people I had worked with over ten years ago. Saved.
Don’t get me wrong, the author wasn’t arrogant or rude. The feelings holding me hostage were all my own. Would I have felt any better if I wrote high-brow literary works, or if I had a highly acclaimed method of planning and writing? Probably not. I’ve never been the kind of person to see myself as superior or an expert in anything I do, even in my professional career.
On reflection, I don’t believe one method of writing is better than another; it’s down to the individual author to discover what works for them. And no one genre should be deemed better than another, there are plenty of readers out there for every style.
My new motto should be, I’m an organic writer and proud!
What about you? Think how you’d respond in this situation.
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