Making it up as I go along: how I write

Allison Tait blog
Posted on September 26, 2011

I’m in an awkward position right now. While I’m not a plotter or a planner by any stretch of the imagination, usually, with writing, I at least have a good idea of what I’m going to say.

A notion. A hint.

But not right now. Right now I’m sitting in front of the computer and just plain… hoping. That something useful will appear.

I have a deadline. I have a word count. I have half of what I need. I just don’t have a clear picture of where the other half will take me.

I’m not sure whether to feel terrified or elated. It could be good. Really good. Or it could all end in tears around the 6000-word mark, when I realise I’ve backed myself into a corner and can’t resolve the ending.

All I can do is trust that it will all work out. And make it up as I go along.


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  1. Madam Bipolar

    I am a weird deadline robot. Comes from years of writing while a narcky night editor stood over my shoulder. I can churn, baby churn.
    Good luck with your deadline.

  2. Dianne

    I’m at the beginning of a novel, with a good idea, but no idea how I’m going to fill out 400+ pages. Makes me sick in the stomach if I think about that too much. So I have to tell myself just to trust the process …

  3. Penny

    I do my best work (cleaning, cooking, writing, working….) in the eleventh hour. Totally work on the Just in Time theory.

  4. Kerri Sackville

    Oh honey. I am still recovering from the trauma of Chapter 19. You will get there. (Actually, that last line was me talking to myself.)
    Keep me posted and any writing hints will be most welcome.

  5. postcard pam

    I do go with the ‘see what happens’ very often. For me , it’s therapeutic and I find out all sorts of things about myself that I never knew before I started. the truth will out!

    Scarily, when I trained people, I used the same method:- “Too much wine last night so I will just open my mouth and see what word flutters out and take my cue from there. Worked a treat and never a bad evaluation. Ha!

  6. tinsenpup

    I do write like this. It’s the absolute best way to see what your subconscious has been working on. And yes, I am a little on the crazy side, now that you mention it. Of course, I don’t have a deadline and I think you’ll find that that makes me just a leeetle less crazy than you right now. 😉 It’s either going to be brilliant or completely lame. I’m betting on the former.

  7. Amy

    Eh, the other half will come…I hope. I’m a winger myself. I let my ideas “marinate” in my head and they are usually pretty close to ready at deadline time.

  8. Kelly Exeter

    I like River’s idea … now THAT is extreme writing!

  9. Jo

    Totally brilliant, exasperating, rigorous, long-night and demanding way to work. To follow your interest and navigate with trust in your own compositional experience to land where you don’t yet know! lol. Sorry for the little bit crazy download, but my first love in life (after babes) is improvisation – I have a MA in making it up as I go along – lucky for that! Maybe you should work in some of those rarely used words you miss seeing…

  10. Mrs Woog

    It is crap Al, but you are a star. And it is why I say no to deadlines. X

  11. Diminishing Lucy

    I don’t wing it very often, but when I jump into the unknown, the exhilaration alone is often worth it…

  12. Daisy, Roo and Two

    I love how Farmer’s Wife described it! Extreme sport of writing!
    I don’t write much except my blog, but I usually have a general idea of what my point will be, but often not a clue as to how I’ll get there. A lot of the time a post will come out of a picture I’ve seen, something I saw on TV, pottering around in the kitchen.

    Good luck with your words, I’m sure your words will be wonderful.
    P.S. That locket is awesome!

  13. River

    perhaps you could write it back to front? Do the ending first.

  14. Maxabella

    I am a little bit crazy. x

  15. A Farmer's Wife

    Oh – it sounds quite exciting. Almost like the extreme sport end of the writing spectrum….

  16. therhythmmethod

    What a treat! Early Fibro edition.
    You’ll work it out. Bird by bird buddy, bird by bird. xx

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