Writing Like a Freight Train (I might kinda recommend it)

This is kinda of a long story so I’ll try to sum up as nicely as possible. *ahem*

A while back I had the idea to write a novel in a style I called “stream, of consciousness” or “brain dumping “(I know I know. That is basically pantsing but just bear with me alright). That all started here, and I then proceeded to follow through with this plan for NaNoWriMo 2019 (which I WON. I’m sorry I’m still hyped about this because I’ve been doing it for the past four years and last year was the first year I made it to 50k *beams*).

I started The Michigan Triangle in November ,and I did not plot AT ALL. I didn’t take notes, didn’t even really let myself think about the plot or where it was going at all. So what happened?

Well, back in November, it worked out really well. I wrote 2k in an hour EVERY DAY. Because I didn’t let myself stop to think about ANYTHING. I was a powerful freight train pushing through the forces of nature unstopped, letting nothing and no one challenge me. (Meaning I was a delirious writer writing at either like 7am or 10pm)

I won Nanowrimo. I hadn’t in any of the previous years, even though I had plotted, or at least kinda plotted the novel (my plotting is typically pretty sparse. Character profiles are just not for me. But that’s a whole ‘nother area we don not need to get into right now)

(Also, this new WordPress editor: is it just me or does it suck? Like is it my internet connection? (which is bad) or is the new editor reaaaallllllyyyy sloooooooww. Like, I type and nothing shows up till like 2 minutes later)(I discovered: it is my internet.)

A week ago (or…two weeks ago), I decided to finish The Michigan Triangle so I could have the draft and set it aside and focus on other things. I did HOWEVER decide to do a little bit of an outline. One, I wanted to finish soon, and it had been several months since I wrote it. I felt kind of out of the loop (when I read it over, I was honestly like, “Ooooh, I wonder what happens next!” because I forget everything). I had been on a roll with it, but I had gotten off said roll.

I wrote a brief outline (like, 500 words or something). And while I plotted what was going to happen, I kept doing the most important thing I had learned:

Just. Write.

I noticed that where I often get stuck is on weird little things like, “how do I transition this scene?” or “what happens on the drive from here to there?” or “how to I describe them entering the house”

Now, sometimes sitting there and thinking about things can bring an idea. But a lot of times, it doesn’t. I really learned how to push over those little roadblocks, so that I could keep writing the story, instead of getting hooked up on how he should walk down the stairs.

Now, this whole Brain-Dumping process didn’t turn out as “romantic” as I thought it would be (I think this might be though because of the type of story I was writing. Michigan Triangle is a thriller, and thrillers like to get things done. And I had in my head it was going to be a sort of story that would just sprawl in a thousand glorious directions and be a 300,000 word mess but whatever). But, besides my imagined sprawling story, I think it might also be because I was on a deadline. Nanowrimo. I had to got those 50k DONE.

While I’m not a plotter (and I also want to mention that I am SUPER happy with how Michigan Triangle came out), I missed being able to muse over the story. Imagine scenes. Plan out character backstories when the inspiration struck. Doodle and write character’s names in gel pens. Fiddle with world building and stuff.

And just being able to sit down for a moment and make a conscious choice of where I WANT THE STORY to go, to survey my options, and make sure what I want to happen is happening.

I missed all the exploring. I guess I write to write a story like walking through a field, through a neighborhdood, surveying the landscape and watching people and things and observing houses and all their different shapes and sizes.

Writing Michigan Triangle was like riding a freight train. The landscape whirring by and you can’t see anything. Actually, more like clinging onto the side of the freight train and screaming the whole time.

(Also I may or may not have started a playlist for this year’s NaNo novel. Someone help me it’s five months away I CAN’T HELP IT. I have other projects I need to work on by I just!!!! Snow QUEEN!!! Young Han Solo type character I mean how could I not be excited for this. And I have a brilliant tragic beginning to get the protagonist going and ahhhhh)

However, I did write The Michigan Triangle quickly, and it did turn out alright (I finished yesterday, capping it at a measly 64,000). So pounding out words without thought or care, just letting the story take you where it wills and not letting a scene or moment stop you, is a valid option and you can get a good piece writing out of it.

Though I fully admit that it’s not entirely glamorous, and if you never want to do it, I don’t blame you since most people don’t like clinging to the side of the freight trains.

(Ok, so here’s the thing. I have a ceiling fan in my room, real nice because the air conditioner is null in my room since it’s above the garage. It’s null to the heater too, so basically I live in the elements. But anyway, I have this ceiling fan, and there are three settings. The lowest is a joke, the middle one is nice to get a little bit of air circulation, but the highest?

A hurricane.

The fan swings dangerously as if at any moment it is going to tear off the wall like the helicopter of death. So it makes me nervous. But the worse is – the way it softly moves my hair. Like not a crazy I’m standing at the doors of Edoras kind of blowing my hair, but just the tiniest bit, the most annoying blowing that causes like the little fly aways to move ever so slightly and GAH. SO ANNOYING. end rant.)

3 responses to “Writing Like a Freight Train (I might kinda recommend it)”

  1. This was a fun read.

    You have in your hands a typical first draft. Congratulations. You laid out the foundation, now it’s time to build the house. Read it through, find things that work and don’t work. Create a list of things you’d like to expand. Maybe a character or two came out in a way you didn’t expect, maybe some didn’t.

    When you are finished with the second draft recruit beta readers. You’ll need a handful of at least four of five. They will give you an idea what works for the reader. Huge congrats! You’re on your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] I’ve written plenty of novels, but still do not have my prep down to even a vagueish science. Heck, there was even that one NaNoWriMo where I didn’t do any prep at all. (Read more about that here). […]


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