Unfortunately, by the time you get to the fourth or fifth book of your seven book series, you cannot just write ‘whatever’. If you write ‘whatever’, your series is going to be ‘whatever’. You can get away with it in the first book. Maybe even the second book. But after that, the whole thing crumbles spectacularly. Your character development has taken on a new dimension: your characters are developing into morons. Your prose is so full of nothing words that the book reads like nothing. Your plot is so complex no one can make it out. And by the time you’ve finished the draft, fifty percent of your book – if you’re uncommonly fortunate – might be worth reading, and the rest might be worth throwing out a window.
What’s the solution? I ask myself this over and over. I plan meticulously, writing down every detail of the book. And what happens? It all falls apart. By page three, my characters have screwed up all my schemes, and I’m back to writing trash.
It seems like an impossible problem. I make serious coffee, listen to music, eat chocolate, and try again. Nothing helps.
When I was younger, I used to daydream more. I used to have more head space, to daydream, I suppose. This was before I owned a business and had to think about where I was driving to and who needs to pay me and which student is doing an exam. Yet, this particular dilemma (the white screen of death) has brought home to me the importance of daydreaming.
Daydreaming trumps planning. You can make all the plans in the world, but unless you’ve imagined (and this is the brain’s way solving problems) you won’t foresee all the little issues that will crop up when you try to follow the plot you’ve outlined. If you daydream, you’ll see immediately what works and what doesn’t. And besides, you’ll get to experience your book in the most personal and intimate way possible.
The only trouble is that daydreaming is so difficult. It takes so much effort to imagine a scene so realistic that you manage to suspend your own belief … that your idea wins you over entirely. It takes unbelievable energy to walk into another world, to see everything fully and vividly.
I suppose it’s just a muscle that I don’t exercise that often anymore. But I intend to work out a little more often now.