Anyone who’s been reading this blog regularly will know that I’ve recently been focusing a lot of attention on one particular short story for a competition which closes next week. I’m now under a lot of time pressure, as I still haven’t got a complete draft, let alone a finished product to submit.
This has got me thinking. In the past I always thought of myself as the kind of writer who worked better under pressure – that I was better off leaving everything until the last minute, knocking off one finished product in a hurry and sending it off with only minimal proofreading. I’m now questioning the rationale behind that kind of thinking… While it might be fine for school assignments and blog posts, I’m starting to learn that I’ve been foolish for thinking that the same might be true of creative pieces.
Usually I don’t plan a lot before I start writing a story. A scene will come to me, and I’ll have to get it down in a hurry before I lose it. Often it will be quite sketchy at this point, with only actions, dialogue and setting really clear. Then I have to go back and work on specifics – names for the characters, plotting out how they came to this point, and where they will go from here. Sometimes it turns out that the scene I’ve written isn’t even the beginning of the story. This time it’s been different. I put a lot of planning into this story before I started it, and it just feels wrong. Instead of just letting things unfold, I assigned certain actions to certain characters, and now I’m struggling to follow their motivations. I know what they did, but not why…which of course colours the how…
So I now have about a week left to get from half-finished first draft to a polished final product, printed out and in the post to arrive before the competition deadline…I really hope I can come up with something worth the effort!!