The first place you need to begin, especially while starting a long-form fiction project (or re-starting it), is to discover yourself as a writer – to find out what kind of a writer you are. Because unless you do it, you won’t know how to proceed further, especially once the initial flame of anticipation and excitement burns off.
Typically, there are two types of writers:
- Intuitive writer (also known as Discovery writer)
- Plotter (also known as an Outliner)
Now, these are basically the two extreme ends of the spectrum. So consider the figure below:
You will find yourself somewhere in between these two ends, depending upon your unconscious inclinations.
Intuitive or Discovery writers write based on their intuitions. The ideas come to them unbridled and then the details follow, their unconscious as well as subconscious mind working on the idea day and night without them even being actively aware for most of the process. Majority of the story as well as the elements in it, comes intuitively to them. Think of a big cauldron (the mind) on the flames of your unconscious and subconscious mind cooking the soup (the story) month after month, simmering it as it bubbles there, and gets nice and thick, as you (consciously) stir it sometimes and adding bits of veggies and pieces of meat into it. It keeps on cooking and bubbling and improving its consistency, while the writer himself goes on about living their life knowing something is brewing in their mind and that ‘something’ is going to be good!
What their job is to give it enough time and keep on putting as many stirs and veggies and chunks of meat in it as they can, by consciously working not their stories and when it all gets too unbearable – when you feel the urge to jump out of the bed in the middle of the night and stat losing your precious sleep night after night, to grab your laptop or pen and paper and write it all down, then you do it.
This is how the mind of an intuitive writer works.
The downside is, their mind it always hyper -aware of their story and they find it hard to separate the real world and their story-world as it reaches its crescendo. It tends to drive a person mad – imagine all your characters talking in your head and wanting to be written!
Generally, people who are on the emotionally sensitive side, and are more receptive to energies, tend to be intuitive writers. Simply put, they are easily possessed but heir ideas and stories.
This intuitive approach is the same for all kinds of artists – painters, singers, lyricists, etc.
Outliners or plotters on the other hand, are the writers who have to outline their ideas, plot their characters and then work from the inside out. This may turn out to be an absurdly complex process, but it won’t feel like that to an outliner. The advantage is that, it is a very meticulous way of writing. And discipline prevails over creativity, so in this case you have to make sure it doesn’t kill the creativity all together because it possess the ability, and may tend to, suck the joy out of writing by making it feel too mechanical at times.
If you are an outliner, then it should be obvious to you why you get stuck in your writings – because your mind needs an outline or a plan to go ahead. That is simply how your mind works, so no need denying it. Brace it and do what is needed. Learn to plot ahead, learn writing by chalking out a plan for what to write next.
Eventually, when you have worked on your projects enough, you will start to feel a deeper connection with your writing intuition and then will you’ll automatically start writing based on intuition than an outline. But it takes time.
This is why you need to know what kind of a writer you are. You need to understand how your mind works in order to be able to work with it in harmony.
I have more insight to share about intuitive writers than outliners because I happen to be one. I am a highly intuitive person and as a result, I am an extremely intuitive writer. My stories keep me up at night, making me spend a lot of my sleeping time tapping away at my laptop while my cats stare at me like something is wrong with me. When I write, I enter a trance which can only be felt and not explained. All I can tell is, when I start writing, everything else fades to nothing and I forget time and space and enter a world that is not the one we are in. It is my story’s world, I am not me, I am my characters and that is how I do it and I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Although it is emotionally taxing, it is irrevocably rewarding.
As an intuitive writer, I very rarely face the blank-page-syndrome, though on the downside, I cannot force myself to write when I don’t feel like it. So I had to learn to navigate these slippery slopes in order to build a consistent writing habit.
It is difficult, but achievable with time, patience and disciple.