Meanwhile, I’ll Be Busy Making S*&% Up

Writing a novel is, at heart, all about making shit up.

That phrase–making shit up–became the constant refrain of my Mapping the Novel workshop at the Sitka Center last week.  (It was the BEST workshop ever, mostly because of my wonderful students, but also because of the fabulous staff and the spectacular location. I could go on and on.)

In order to write a novel, you’ve got to make a lot of shit up. You just do. But then you have to shape the stuff you made up into some kind of form.  And that was the premise of the workshop–that you’ve got to let your right brain roam free but also learn the structures through which you will corrall it.

It is easy to get hung up on any part of the process (she said, having experienced getting hung up at many points along the way). But bear in mind that structures are part of craft and can be learned. You can study plot, scene, character, style, and theme. It’s hard, but you can figure out how to apply it so you make a novel with a cohesive whole.

What is harder, arguably, in this day and age, is the making shit up part. It’s the part where we let our brains run free, and allow our hands to follow them, putting word after word on the page–even when we don’t know where the words will lead us.

The making shit up part is why we become writers.  I mean, who sets out to write a novel because he wants to master plot? There may be a few of you out there, but I’d wager a bet that most of you want to write a novel because you’ve experienced the glory of writing, how good it makes you feel to lay down those tracks.

The making shit up part is fun–and its also sometimes really freaking hard to get ourselves to do.  But really, all you have to do is go do it.  Take a prompt, any prompt, set a timer for 10 minutes and go write! Do it now. Go make shit up.  You’ll be glad you did.

Leave a comment and let’s discuss your favorite way to make shit up.

**I had a couple of great photos from Sitka picked out to go along with this post but some reason, WordPress doesn’t want to let me upload them. If you want to see a ton of them, go to my Instagram page (and follow me while you’re there–it is one of my chief social media outlets).

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4 Comments on "Meanwhile, I’ll Be Busy Making S*&% Up"

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mitziflyte
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mitziflyte
Yep – I make S*&%$T up. All the time. But my favorite time is right before I go to sleep. I think about my WIP, review the scenes, think about new scenes, and changes to old ones. Sometimes I even change the focus altogether. By the time I wake up in the morning, it’s all settled in my little gray cells. And I started making S*&%$T up when I was a kid. I didn’t lie as much as I told stories, usually about me and it was usually that I was pretend sick and didn’t want to go to school.… Read more »
J.D.
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J.D.
After reading your post, I have new thoughts on making shit up. Early on, I was a big fan of pantsing. Its shortcoming is that you can end up with a lot of pages with no universal thread. Why not dream up that thread and paint it in your mind like a double-yellow line before you start?Is your book about someone who discovers the value of honesty, a different meaning of love, or true religion? As we have heard so many times, what is the moral of the story? Let your mind wander as much as it wants, make up… Read more »
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