This question has nothing to do with plotters versus pantsers. It has to do with spontaneity. And maybe it’s not about writing at all, but about thinking of what to write.
When you write an e-mail at work, do you struggle to find the right words or put down whatever comes to mind and then hit send? I find if I do the latter, I usually don’t get the answer I was looking for (or I say something I didn’t intend). I’ll read and re-read my e-mails before I hit send – and then still find a mistake afterward (very frustrating).
It will take me at least an hour to prepare an e-mail to a friend (and it doesn’t have to be lengthy). I was just as bad when I actually hand-wrote letters to my pen pals (back before personal computers), so nothing got written until it was clear in my mind. Writing something interesting is hard, especially when life is basically boring (well, mine was anyway).
That’s probably why I thought I could never write. No idea came easy and writing papers in school was pure torture (especially the ones requiring research – yeah, you’ll never see me writing historical romance).
I’ve been in workshops where I’ve been required to write about my characters, or jot down a quick pitch of my book, or just write when given a prompt. I couldn’t do any of those. And it wasn’t because I can’t – because I can. I just can’t do spur of the moment. I don’t think that fast.
I’m glad I finished writing a book before I took any workshops. That experience alone told me I could write. Those classes would have probably shot me down quicker than anything if I didn’t have the knowledge beforehand.
Once the idea has hit me and stuck, the words will flow. But getting that idea is the time consumer for me. That, and making sure I have the right words.
In other news… I got a nice surprise on Monday. One of those agents I pitched to at the FF&P conference had read my first three chapters and wanted the rest of my book. When I first saw the e-mail, I assumed it was another reject (because, let’s face it, we writers get more of those than anything, right?). I promptly sent him the manuscript. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it’s nice to know I hooked someone I don’t know enough to want to read more!