Writing a novel is a little like journaling. At least it is for me because my novels are written in the first person -- and so are my journal entries.
For the past few weeks, I've been plotting book three in my Lark Chadwick mystery-suspense series. I know what I want to happen at all the main pivot points and I know how it will end; I've given a lot of thought to the sequence of events and the characters; I've met the killer, the red herrings, and the love interest(s).
But there's so much about the story I still don't know. Again, it's just like journaling: I have desires and plans for the future, but life can only be lived one day at a time.
Yesterday, I couldn't wait any longer for all the details of the novel to take shape in my mind -- I felt compelled to begin the first draft. I've written two chapters so far. To be honest, they suck. But that's okay. I can loop back and touch things up later. Right now, I NEED to get something concrete written down.
The interesting thing I've discovered is that the act of writing helped crystallize my thinking -- just like when I tackle a vexing problem in my journal. The idea for how to end each chapter came to my conscious mind mere seconds before I wrote it, just as the answer to a vexing problem in life sometimes comes to me during the act of writing down the details.
Perhaps this happens because when we merely ruminate on things, our minds flit willy-nilly, but the act of writing takes all those amorphous thoughts and laser-focuses them to the tip of the ballpoint as it glides across the paper or the tips of our fingers as they tap (or, in my case, pound) the keyboard keys. Writing forces the mind to slow down and zoom in for a close-up. Writing allows thoughts that had been lurking just below the surface of our consciousness to materialize.
So, maybe writing is like living: Plan a little; write a little -- plan a little; LIVE a little. Maybe. We shall see.