Nearly a year later, I’ve returned to my local beach with my comfortable chair and beach blanket to begin work on Book 2 of the Jeremy Shuttle Adventures, “What Next”.
As before, I start with a jumbled mass of ideas I’ve been jotting down on a nearly finished yellow pad over that same time span. Some of the ideas are for Book 3 and some for Book 2, in no particular order.
I take the pad with me, along with a bottle of water and my iPhone, camp myself in front of the surf (as close as reasonable without interfering with joggers and water boarders) and begin crafting my plot summary for Book 2. I finished that today.
Friday, I will bring the tiny laptop with me to layout a detailed outline of the book, roughly a page or two per chapter. How many chapters, what’s in a chapter or how long a chapter, I have no clue. I just keep typing until I come to the end of the book, which I do know.
The outline process takes as long as it takes, although it’s not relegated to only being done on my beach days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Last time, I got quite a few of those “mini” chapters (chapterettes?) done on the patio. This may be more necessary in the next few days as there are some disturbances in the tropics already. While none are currently projected as tropical storms, the expectation is we will finally be getting some much needed soaking here in South Florida.
Once the detailed outline is done, it’s time for the real work of writing the book. That will be done, as before, solely in my chair at the beach. I’ll usually put in about two hours (more if I’m “in the zone”) and then take about a half-hour to clear my head by lying on the blanket listening to some tunes. Finally, before leaving, I usually just sit in the chair for a bit and take in the ocean and observe all the life enjoying the beach (people, birds, an occasional crab, whatever).
I like this process because it distills my story ideas multiple times to the point that when I do start writing, I am committed to my storyline and see it clearly in my head. That allows the ideas to tumble from my head to my fingertips, which is one reason I don’t mind not seeing the screen when I’m typing – I just focus on the words. Of course, I’m just as committed when the storyline changes, which happens occasionally, usually for the better.
The same day, but many hours later, I will pull out the laptop again and correct the typos and grammatical errors, tightening up the writing along the way. The hours in between allow me to look at the work freshly in the afternoon and easily see clunky or non-connected thoughts and either fix or prune them.
Best of all, I get to remind myself each time I’m out there how lucky I am to live in this state, surrounded by so much natural beauty and enchantment. It makes writing that much more joyful and inspiring.