I'm way behind on deadline. My own, self-imposed deadline. Even though I used to work on daily deadlines, back in my day-job days, and my publisher imposed one is months away, I need to give myself a dose of panic. So I set my own deadlines and frantically work toward them. An outline in a week. A first draft in two months. And just to ensure I get the adrenaline pumping, I remind myself I will be 'in big trouble' if I fall behind.
Maybe I'm crazy, or masochistic, but I find the deadlines comforting. They break a big project into manageable chunks. Into steps, like the rungs on a ladder. Just take one, then another, and then--presto--I'm holding a whole book in my hands. Created by just taking a deep breath and meeting the next goal on my list.
The truth is, I'm still quite a newbie at this. I've written four contracted books now, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to many authors. I'm still learning my writing process. Each book I have tackled differently. Each one has been an experiment in the creative process. The first I wrote without a synopsis and I let my characters guide me. For the next, I combined mystery/romantic suspense with regency-set erotica. I needed a completely different method. That one involved lots of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets about character motives. Clues. Even one to list the pictures my artistic heroine sketched throughout the story.
For my latest book, I'm expanding my method. I have spreadsheets that explain the goals, motiviations, and conflicts of each character. I have a character chart, where I explain what each character needs to make them happy. And I wrote the most detailed outline I have ever done for a book. I have tried to be a 'pantser' and write without a outline, and I 'flew into the mist' (the wonderful, evocative term author Jo Beverley uses), but I need the security blanket of an outline. Then I'm free to focus on the detail work that follows--the actual writing.
But I'm still learning. And I know I will always be learning, no matter how many books I write. So, I'm trying to keep a record of what I've tried, what worked for me, what didn't.
Do you have a method? Do you find your approach to writing is constantly evolving?