The Roadrunner Syndrome—or, How Do You Write?

So, I’m done with my novel, am done polishing it (for now) and must walk away from it.  In the meantime, I  MUST do something to distract myself from thinking about it.  And the only thing that can distract me is to get wrapped up in another little  imaginary world.  Yep, you guessed it.  Work on something new!  Yay! Cool…and kind of like digging a ditch and being so happy and proud of the fine ditch you already dug only to turn around and decide to dig another one.

So, about my new ditch my new piece—I actually started it about a month ago and it’s kind of been in that roadrunner stage. You know…like the roadrunner in Looney Tunes whose legs spin fast and furious and in place for a minute before he shoots off into the desert escaping yet another one of the coyote’s blasts of dynamite?  Yes, that one.  See, a writing teacher once told me that the first pages of any piece you write are basically just roadrunner syndrome—kicking up dust, warming up,  but not really treading ground, which means that eventually, you have to get rid of those pages.  I didn’t really believe it at first, I mean, I used to think my first few pages were not only GOLD, but completely necessary.  Then I started taking a closer look and realized (to my great dismay) that she was right.  And so began the whole mixed feelings when I start a new piece because I know most of it is just me warming up and I’ll have to kiss it goodbye.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been—making a mess of the lives of my new characters, forgetting their names, going on about irrelevant and unnecessary information—just spinning and waiting to take off.  Yesterday, though, I suddenly got a very clear picture of a scene that probably takes place more towards the middle of the story and I HAD to write it.  What leads up to it?  Not quite sure.  What happens after it?  Don’t know.  But this is the scene that sets the whole thing in motion.  I feel like I now know which direction to take with it, what things to set up.   So sure, at some point, I’ll have to get rid of those first pages.  And I have more pages that I haven’t even written yet that with one quick hit of a button, will eventually be deleted as well.  But this scene, this crystal-clear scene, will almost definitely stay.  I think I’m finally treading ground and not just zooming in place.

This all got me to thinking about the writing process.  How do you write?  Do you believe in roadrunner syndrome (actually, just take a look at this post… a bit of dust there at the beginning, aye?)?  And when do you feel like you’re making progress?  Do you jump around, or do you start at the beginning and work everything out in order as you come across it?  I wonder.

Also, on a completely different note—does the roadrunner have a name? Or is he just Roadrunner?

Follow me on Twitter @jetchez

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8 Responses to The Roadrunner Syndrome—or, How Do You Write?

  1. amanda says:

    I definitely write stories (and articles) out of order, as the scenes and ideas come to me. Then I cut/paste/piece things together towards the end. Don’t know that this is the best way to do things, but it seems to work for me.

    And, I think it’s just Road Runner. Or, maybe Herbert? 😉

  2. Ollin says:

    Never thought about it like that. Interesting. Yeah, that’s what I did with the first rough draft of my novel. Just ran through it. That’s the best way to do it, and I agree a writer should do that first, instead of mulling over one chapter at a time.

    Good luck with your manuscript! Sounds exciting! 🙂

    • Thanks, Ollin! I really appreciate that. By the way, I love what you have written on your blog about writing a great novel but first learning to live a great life. That’s a really fantastic way to look at things. Can’t wait to read more of your posts.

  3. erikamarks says:

    Jenny, cogratulations on your submission! This is fabulous news–and hey, go ahead and refresh your email every ten seconds–why the heck not!?:) It’s an exciting time!

    And funny you should ask about writing styles–I’m on the first draft of my WIP and am finding it a VERY different experience this time–maybe because I’m on a deadline now but whatever the reason I’m jumping more than I did before–but no matter what, I have to know/connect with my characters or I feel so lost as I write…

    • Thanks, Erika! It’s exciting but also anxiety-inducing!

      My characters are really what motivate me to write, too. All of a sudden, they appear and I’m like, “hmmmm…where did you come from and what are you all about?” Then I feel like I absolutely have to figure out their story and tell it.

      All this character talk has me thinking my next post should be on characters!

  4. Jason says:

    Congratulations on your submission! That is very very exciting! I hope to see your book on a shelf soon!

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