Some people make the mistake of confusing qualifications with intelligence. I’ll put myself forward as an example, to illustrate my point.
I’ve got a PhD in creative writing. I lecture in creative writing. I’ve written creative writing books that teach people how to creative write. You would think, given those qualifications, I’d know a little about creative writing.
So, last month, after I hit the 11K mark on my latest novella during NaNoWriMo, I simply stopped producing words. I told myself it was because I was busy with other things. I’ve been promoting a price promo on Fearless. Unearthed is due out on 21st December. I’d also been going through Blackstone Towers and tidying up a handful of loose ends in that story. On top of that I’ve got lots of marking to do at work and Christmas is just around the corner.
All of this shows, whilst I’ve not been productive in my writing, I’ve certainly been imaginative with my excuses.
And I’m calling these reasons for not being productive ‘excuses’ because the lack of writing had a cause: it was a lack of planning. The Explorer’s Club (and that is a working title) is a complicated story about storytelling and storytellers. I know how it starts and how it finishes but I needed to wrestle the ideas into shape before I could produce the content I needed for this one.
I’m aware that some writers describe themselves as plotters, plotting meticulously before they put one word to the page; and other writers identify as pantsers, making the story up as they go along and writing ‘by the seat of their pants’. I’m also aware that most writers fall into both of these groups at some point, enjoying the thrilling of pantsing for one story, and needing the structure of plotting for another.
Yet, whilst I’m aware of these diverse approaches, and I mention them repeatedly in How to Write Short Stories and Get Them Published, it’s taken me a month to sit down and plot what’s going to happen in The Explorer’s Club. The structure now looks like the idea I’d originally envisioned, but with a little more finesse. And I stand by the idea that, whilst I’ve got qualifications, I sometimes lack the intellect to remember to use the education and knowledge that got me those qualifications.