Firstly, let me apologise for this prolonged absence. I had a minor medical matter that needed to be taken care of (it has been, and I am fine and well and recovering nicely, thank you very much), but I missed this place; missed it dearly. For what writer enjoys not being in a fit enough condition to do so?
Over the past few weeks I have been giving my writing, and writing in general, quite a bit of thought. Oh, not plot or character or themes or anything as enjoyable as that. No, I have been considering how much of our own personalities we actually put into our writing, if any at all. And I don’t just mean, how much of ourselves do we put into our main character or our villain. I’m looking at all aspects of writing. When we write; our style of writing; the amount we write per sitting; are we planners or pantsers.
More importantly, are we substituting our own personality in favour for the behaviour of our favourite (favorite for my American friends) authors and how they write? Are we following others methods of writing at the expense of finding our own unique way?
When I wrote Looking Back both stories in the book were a stream of consciousness. They came effortlessly and required very little editing afterwards. They were a mixture of memory, wishful thinking and most importantly, good old fashioned making-stuff-up.
When I wrote Beneath the Darkness the twist in the story ‘The Hitcher’ was not pre-planned and it only came to me as I put the words onto paper. I was just as surprised and delighted as is the first time reader of that story. If I had of known that twist was coming, if it had of been pre-planned, sure it would still have been a delicious feeling to come up with the twist, but I would have been robbed of its pleasure in discovering it by ‘accident’ while writing.
This is not an endorsement for choosing one way of writing over another, it is merely a reflection of my personality and these stories that I have published are ones that I am proud of. Not only because I believe them to be well written, but in their writing, they reflect an aspect of myself and my personality.
They were all written in the early hours of the morning (as most of my writing is) and they all started with just a kernel of an idea that evolved into the stories that they became without any real planning.
As a person, I’m not a fan of planning ahead too much. This goes for a lot of things in my life, but not all. I don’t have a personal planner nor do I keep a personal budget. I don’t purchase Christmas or birthday presents months in advance nor do I think about what I’m going to buy until the moment is upon me. I don’t know what I’m going to wear tomorrow until I get up and throw on whatever takes my fancy (depending on the weather of course. It’s Ireland I live in after all.). I don’t write fiction during the day because the world is awake and busy around me and personally, that is not conducive for quality writing. So it should follow, that my writing is not pre-planned. It is write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. It is a partial reflection of how I live my life. That is not to say my life is completely haphazard and tumultuous, but it is what works for me.
Finally, the type of stories I write reflect who I am also. I am not going to write YA fiction or find the genre that is selling the most at the moment and cash in on that. No, I couldn’t do that, and I would advise against you doing it, too. Writing is all about finding your voice and following through. My writing is often, dark, a bit twisted and you will more likely find an anti-hero rather than a genuine ‘good guy’. Not that I am like that myself, but those things interest me. I am a questioner; a curiosity hound; a loner (somewhat). I enjoy my own company and much prefer to judge things on my own experience of them rather than on what other people say about them. These are all parts of my personality and through many thousands of words of trial and error, I believe I have found my writing voice, and I have followed through on that.
Finally, and most importantly, you will know you are ‘writing your personality’ when you write the book you’ve always wanted to read. Write for you, not for what you think someone will like. Chances are, if you like what you’ve written, other people will too.