Should You Write Books in Order?

Library with booksI am often asked if I plan a story ahead of time or just start writing and see where my muse takes me. As an ultra planner and organizer of the first order, I cannot begin a story unless I have a pretty good idea of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. But one of the most common questions other writers ask each other is, should we write our stories in order, meaning you don’t start chapter two until you’ve finished chapter one. I have often heard other writers bemoan the fact that they sometimes can’t stay focused on the current chapter they’re working on because they keep thinking ahead to other parts of the story. Sometimes they describe this as torturous or speak of it as a fault. Ultra planner as I am, one may be surprised to learn that I have a completely different take on this. I am an author because daydreaming has always been my chief skill and preoccupation, and as such, it takes on a mind of its own. I actually enjoy thinking and creating whatever part of the story my mind wants to work on at any given moment.

My best advice is, don’t try to control your creativity. Rather, follow it instead and see where it leads you. Think of your mind as going to where it’s needed most at the moment. The brilliant ideas will come when your mind is not forced, when you give it the reins. It has been wildly fun for me to visualize scenes near the end of my book when I’m still writing the beginning of it.

That being said, you do need a way to capture those random moments of inspiration. (Here’s where my ultra planner personality comes in.) I keep a file where I type rough drafts for upcoming scenes in my book. I don’t type eloquent prose, I just capture the particular points of a scene and/or dialogue I came up with, enough so I can remember the general gist of the scene when I come to it in the book. I can add the fancy language and descriptions later. Or if the fancy language and descriptions were what I came up with in advance, I’ll go ahead and jot those down in the file. It may be months before those scenes get put into the book, but much of the work will have been done, when the inspiration first came.

For authors, creativity is the name of the game, and creativity cannot be scheduled. And why would you want it to be? That’s what makes writing novels fun!

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