Confessions of a Panster Writer: Trusting the Muse

My brain is busy.

No joke. πŸ™‚

I’ve tried plotting. I’ve tried outlining. It works for some, and doesn’t for others. I’m the latter.

I go into a book with a few ideas. Sometimes getting stuck holds me back, but even now, I’ve learned in the first draft to leave a note and just move on. Bare bones fast drafting is my method of choice. I’ve had holes in the story. Big gaping ones. I’ve had leads that didn’t go anywhere. Oh, my first draft can be a mess, like a tornado swept through. My poor beta reader, sometimes I put her through the wringer, trying to make sense of my mess. She’s a trooper, though.

I’ve been writing my whole life. I’ve been writing for publication going on six years. I’ve learned if the muse has a wacky, crazy WTF idea to at least run with it. This fickle, darling muse of mine has some wild places she takes me to, but for the most part, she’s led me to ideas I needed to follow. I’ve written stories about characters I didn’t know at first needed stories. (I’ve also written characters based on reader’s suggestions, but that’s another story altogether.)

This time around in the world of β€œWhere’s my Muse taking me now?” is Vibrant, the 3rd book in my Winning Your Heart series. The series (At least the first three books) follows the lives of the Monroe twins, Lizette and Nola.

In the first two books, each twin gets her own story. It starts with a twin switch in So Unlike Me. That book was meant to be a short novel with romantic comedy elements.

The muse said, β€œNope, we’re not having any of that. You’re going to add a mystery.”

This happened HALFWAY through the book! How am I supposed to wrap up this element now, muse? I can’t go over 45,000 words! (This was for a boxed set that the cap word count was 45,000!) I was also TRYING to write another stand alone.

Ha ha on me. Truth be told, I’m glad I gave Nola a story. She intrigues many as a secondary character in So Unlike Me, and I loved getting into her head in Forbidden Shelter. And the mystery element the muse decided I needed? It continued on in book 2.

So now, I’m giving the twins a much needed happily ever after. They’ve been through a lot on the last two years.

Oh, things were going great, for the most part. I had a few things I got stuck on, points I needed but didn’t quite have at the time.

And then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the muse said,” This is what you need to do with the twins.”

Whoa. Just whoa. Stop for a second there. *Holds out hands and stares at the muse in awe.*

Are you serious?

The muse stares back at me. β€œHave I taken you down good roads before?”

She has a point.

So I followed this path, and oh, it hurt to do what I needed to do, but the signs were there in the previous books, how could I not follow that lead and not only give the girls their happily ever after, but help them discover more about themselves?

It’s a scary thought to give the reins to someone else to lead, and the same thought goes for following an idea in my head that wasn’t originally there before. But damn, the adventures are fun! I’ll have a giant mess to clean up before this book is all said and done, but the story potential and the feels are all there, ready and waiting to wrap up this segment of the Monroe twins’ saga.

Trust the muse. It’s something I’ve learned to do.

That’s today’s confession from this crazy panster writer who goes on a whim all the time.

Let’s rock February, shall we? Welcome to 2018!

-Nikki Lynn Barrett

 

Nikki Lynn Barrett

No matter where she goes, USA Today Bestselling author Nikki Lynn Barrett hears voices in her head. Instead of calling her crazy and locking her up, her family realizes it’s just a product of being an author and allows her to write the stories so that the voices shut up.
But they don’t. And probably never will. There’s no need to lock her up, Nikki knows she’ll never escape the voices, not until each and every last story is written. And for every story she writes, about ten or more ideas pop up.

When she isn’t slaving away at her computer writing books that will probably make you cry and keep you in suspense, Nikki plots to take over the world one book at a time. What? It’s a sickness. One she can’t escape!

Books aren’t her only addiction, though. Nikki can be found making up parodies to drive her son crazy, and bantering back and forth with her husband, who somehow manages to steal her away from the fictional world she lives in all the time.

Nikki lives in Arizona with her husband and son, where she can be found using every creativity outlet she can find through music, photography, handcrafted things, and random interests that she may pick up from time to time.

If you want to learn more about the author who makes people cry for a living, check her out at www.nikkilynnbarrett.com

Nikki Lynn Barrett

About Nikki Lynn Barrett

No matter where she goes, USA Today Bestselling author Nikki Lynn Barrett hears voices in her head. Instead of calling her crazy and locking her up, her family realizes it's just a product of being an author and allows her to write the stories so that the voices shut up. But they don't. And probably never will. There's no need to lock her up, Nikki knows she'll never escape the voices, not until each and every last story is written. And for every story she writes, about ten or more ideas pop up. When she isn't slaving away at her computer writing books that will probably make you cry and keep you in suspense, Nikki plots to take over the world one book at a time. What? It's a sickness. One she can't escape! Books aren't her only addiction, though. Nikki can be found making up parodies to drive her son crazy, and bantering back and forth with her husband, who somehow manages to steal her away from the fictional world she lives in all the time. Nikki lives in Arizona with her husband and son, where she can be found using every creativity outlet she can find through music, photography, handcrafted things, and random interests that she may pick up from time to time. If you want to learn more about the author who makes people cry for a living, check her out at www.nikkilynnbarrett.com

6 Replies to “Confessions of a Panster Writer: Trusting the Muse”

  1. I’ve written both ways… with a detailed outline and without. I prefer to write with a detailed outline, but I think that readers wouldn’t be able to tell which books of mine were written without one. The muse does seem kick in with every story. πŸ™‚

  2. Loved your article. I was drawn straightaway by the title. I too follow the Muse directly. I have tried planning beforehand, but it only seems to halt the flow of ideas gasping to appear on the screen. So I find the only way I can successfully write is by heeding the Muse. I don’t have to wait around, as she, or he is there trying to kick the door down. As you so rightly say, trust the Muse.
    :))

  3. I’ve done my writing both ways, for the upcoming box sets I’ve tried outlines, since we have a schedule. However, once I’ve done the outlines, the Muse gets its own ideas, and she a wicked one, my muse, and has never steered me wrong. Best wishes with your new book!

    Hugs,
    Sue

  4. I’m with you, Nikki. I’ve written both ways. Once I plot a story, I lose interest and it is really hard to keep writing that book. After all, I know the end. It’s like watching a movie twice to have to go back and write it after I know the plot. But when I write without knowing the story at all, it’s like reading a book for the first time, as I follow the characters to see what they will become and where the story leads. So much more fun to write, I can hardly wait to see what happens next. If it turns out to be a mystery, I go back and add the mystery elements later, dropping them in where they fit. Happy writing!

  5. Good post. I’m the same way. I’ve tried outlining, even with little plot points of what I think should happen. Never happens that way when I get there! I’ve had to write myself out of corners and messes, but it all makes the journey more exciting.

    As a reader, I can now tell [almost certainly] if an author used an outline or not. I love the ones where they went in a totally new direction that surprised me. I especially love series where I didn’t see any of it coming. Love being surprised!

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