How I Abandon Organization While Planning a Novel

c.l. polk

Sometimes people look at my process and say, “that’s so organized, I have no idea how you do this in such a tidy way, I could never do that. How do you do it so neatly?”

The answer is that I don’t try, at first. That organization is the last thing I do, not the first.

At first I just write whatever is crowding my mind. No order, rhyme, nor reason. I type this out in gdocs, mostly, though I have been known to do it longhand in my notebook and then transcribe. I title the file “Everything I Know About the Story” and it is a celebration of structureless, stream of consciousness process. I do whatever excites and interests me the most without shame or apology, allowing myself to be illogical, liberated, and limitless. I keep at it until I exhaust all my ideas. This usually is about 20-30…

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