Joining the dots

Joining the dots – finding inspiration and connections

When does a piece of writing go from being a piece of writing, to being a piece of writing?


Don’t be. I often say that first drafts are rubbish, in fact every writer will tell you the same. That first draft is messy, untidy, doesn’t flow and often doesn’t make sense and that is just perfect.

But you may wail, how do I make it just so?

Reflection. Silence. Nothingness.

The desire to fiddle and meddle is strong when you want a perfect piece of writing, but the magic comes when you let your creative juices drink in something else and in those other moments, the spaces between the dots, connections are made.

Did I tell you that I am writing a novel? Well, when I say I am writing it, I am thinking it through, scribbling on index cards, and allowing my impish muse (not the naked Burt) to throw little light bulbs at me.

It’s a new genre, I am your self help, how to, memoir kinda gal and now I am challenging myself to a bit of creative meandering.

I have discovered that I need to know a lot about my characters, where they live, eat, do, wear, what systems, processes, culture they have in place, how they communicate etc.

I have a part of me that needs to logically know about the practicalities of their everything. And I run this around my head asking feasibility questions and then my creative side shouts ‘hey hold on, you are making this up, you can do anything you want‘ and of course I can.

In this odd process of imagining a new world the really good stuff comes after I have exhausted my brain with the wondering how, what and why. It comes in letting go and allowing the dots to float together as and when they will.

How is my novel coming along?

Well, I am writing on little index cards, shuffling them around and joining the dots.

10 Replies to “Joining the dots”

  1. Another great post. I have those left brain right brain conversations, too – feasibility vs. pure creative juices flowing. Usually creativity wins but not without a fight!

  2. I can relate with the same battles at times. Practicality vs. creative juices flowing for sheer pleasure. Creativity wins but not always without a battle!

  3. I guess that’s sort of what I’m doing with these blogs… Writing bits and looking to join up the dots later. It seems to be the only way I am going to sit down and write anything!

  4. EGAD! I can so relate to this! I thought it was just me being scatterbrained and unsettled! What a relief to find out that others do the same thing! I can’t tell you how many word documents I’ve created called “book stuff” with a clever paragraph or two that just popped into my head! Keep these posts coming! I can see I have a great deal to learn from your experience!

  5. I love the idea of joining the dots as part of the writing process, but I do it differently to you. I find it fascinating to hear how other people write. I have no index cards, the plot is in my head and I have a a few notes about things I must not forget. I start writing and let the characters do the rest. I am currently in a situation I never expected at all but it is all the richer for letting (in this case Amanda) do what she wanted to do rather than what I thought she would do. Does that make sense?

    1. I have lots of it in my head, in fact it has been running around there for years, but because I am creating something new, the cards have been helping me to organise my mess 🙂 Once I have a ‘sort of’ structure I shall just write – so yes it does make sense and I fully expect my ‘people’ to wander off.

  6. Congrats on undertaking a novel. I love to write but it is only short posts for our blog. I think the index card idea is wonderful. It lends itself to the connect the dots approach but also can always be with you for inspiration and adding to. I’ll start a word doc on a new post and randomly add what I’ve thought or researched then move into the fine tune mode and revise, revise, revise. Also believe in never trying to write it all at one sitting. Anyway good luck on your novel!

  7. I am a big note maker and always think that the note I am currently making is vitally important to whatever I will be writing, but when it comes to the bigger picture, the notes often seem just to stay in the background. It’s as if they are part of the process. And I so agree that the magic happens when we are doing something else rather than wrestling with ideas. For me it’s walking in particular – that seems to be when the dots rearrange themselves. Looking forward to your novel taking shape!

  8. I love that image Jacqui! I will look forward to reading your book! Best of luck. It’s so great to know that a professional writer goes though the same angst as the rest of us pretenders!


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