A while back, I had the pleasure of hearing bestelling author Andre Dubus~The House of Sand and Fog~speak about freestyle writing. Many of you know I'm a huge believer in outlining but Andre had some excellent points. Andre is the opposite from me. He believes you must not limit yourself, the story must flow freely from you or else you may end up ruining it. In his eyes the process seemed like a wonderful, almost mystical sort of journey that the writer takes, not knowing where the road may lead, if or when it will ever end. I imagine this was how War and Peace was written. *clears throat* He quoted a few outstanding authors who write this way, most of them in the literary genre.
Andre said to write what you don't know you know. That was an interesting twist that I'd never heard before! It intrigued me. He went on to describe how a writer who uses this style was sitting in a room staring at a blank wall, trying to describe the wall. Eventually the writer moved on to the ceiling, then to the outside of the house, then to a couple walking down the street. What he ended up writing was Rag Time.
Freestyling does come with a few drawbacks that Andre pointed out. It took him four years to write The House of Sand and Fog. My jaw metaphorically hit the floor when he said that. One's first book often takes a lot longer~several years even~to write, but that was not Andre's first book. A book can also take a bit longer to write if you have a lot of research to do but freestylers aren't often big researchers.
I can write a book that I'm absolutely in love with and feel very strongly is a good, solid book in six months, sometimes less, but a year tops. With my first book I did not outline and it took me a lot longer because I kept screwing up by not knowing where the story or character is going.
Andre also said he's been late on his deadlines, several times. Late by years, not months. That made me cringe. Sure if your book has been selected by Oprah and you've hit the bestseller list many times, you're publisher might not mind too much. But I can guarantee they don't like it. And from an up an coming or debut author, they simply wouldn't accept such practice.
I truly beleive outlining is part of the creative process, rather than against the creative process. So has Andre convinced me? No, but like I said, he had some interesting points. Perhaps freestyling is a literary thing ;-)
Tell me, which side do you stand on, freestyling or outlining?