Today we welcome Dellani Oakes as she gives insight, offers humour and the personal views of writing while living. Please welcome her by commenting below.
Years ago, when I first started writing, I read an article about outlining. The author of the article contended that before beginning a book, the writer had to know the ending. Each element must be carefully outlined. Each character had to be fully fleshed out with a name and purpose.
I read this article with trepidation. I couldn’t imagine writing like that. I let the characters lead me where they want me to go and together, we find the ending. Having an experienced author vow that my writing style wasn’t valid, crushed me. Here I was, with stories in my head, and doing it all wrong!
I don’t outline, I don’t plan, I don’t know my characters in advance. Some people call this “pantsing” – not a term I’m fond of. It makes this approach to writing seem unprofessional. I prefer Mark David Gerson’s term – Organic Writing. This validates my approach. It gives a name to a more character led method of approach. It also makes me realize that just because I use this approach, it is no less real writing than the orderly, outlined, closely adhered to method.
My stories usually begin with a compelling sentence that refuses to leave me alone. I have to get it down on paper (or the computer) so it won’t disappear completely. Once I begin, I write as much as I can until I either run out of time or run out of story ideas. My muse is fickle, so I run out of ideas fairly often. I have roughly twice as many finished stories as I do finished.
Do I have a set time when I write? No. My life is very – eventful. Some might say chaotic. I have various commitments that don’t always fall into a set schedule. I have to get my work done in and around those commitments. There are sometimes several days between writing sessions. Those are the days it’s best to avoid me. If I don’t get my fix, I’m kinda nasty. I’m sure on these bad days, my husband is probably thinking, “Go write something, dammit!”
Finding time to write is often difficult because friends and family members don’t think of it as real work. It’s a hobby – one that sometimes pays – not a real job. We work at home. Of course, we are always available. I finally gave up trying to set a time for working because it never happens the way I want. The more interruptions I got, the more anxious and frustrated I became. It was easier to set expectations aside and wait it out.
It would help if the men in my family ever answered the phone, but they don’t. One day, I think I’ll let it ring until one of them picks up, then maybe they will get the idea that I have other things to do.
—Yeah, that’ll happen.
Until such time as I can convince people to leave me be or train my menfolk like Pavlov’s dogs, I guess I’ll have to snatch my writing time when I can get it.
© Dellani Oakes
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Although not a Florida native, after living there since 1990, Dellani Oakes considers herself a Floridian. As such, she bases many of her stories in Florida. She’s always written stories, plays and poems, but it wasn’t until her youngest son started kindergarten that she had the time to pay close attention to the voices in her head. She started writing the stories down and that’s how her first novel, Indian Summer, was born.
Thanks for visiting, Dellani and thank you for reading!
Sarah Butland author of Sending You Sammy, Brain Tales – Volume One and Arm Farm