The good news is that the more you write the better matters become. In two ways. In one, your writing becomes better. After seven books (the first one being pretty sucky) Iíve become pretty good at turning out stuff fast and good. And unlike Wrede, I donít hate my books more and more the closer I come to a finish. I like them more and more.
Our creative and critical sides CAN war with each other. But after a time we begin to learn to use them TOGETHER, the way we use our left and right hands together. Thatís the second way we become better.
Every writer will manage this left-brain/right-brain partnership differently. In my case I begin with a creative urge: an overall idea and a character or two at the heart of it. I immediately jump on the computer and write the one sentence or paragraph that will get my story off to a good start. Usually something short.
Then I pause and contemplate that sentence. Thatís when my critical faculty comes to the fore. After so many years of writing Iím usually pretty happy with the sentence. However, that came with lots of practice. And I usually find some tiny ways to sharpen that sentence, even so.
That beginning is my promise to the reader that something good will come. Itís also my reminder, of what I plan to deliver. I come back to it time and time again.
Then I write a page, maybe three. Not agonizingly worrying about perfection the way I used to. During that hour or so my critical faculties are almost completely suspended.
Or theyíre working along in my subconscious on the word and sentence level. For instance, when a paragraph seems to be becoming too long Iíll pause for a fraction of a second, think about it, make a lightning decision, and rush on.
Then I take a break. Maybe long minutes. Maybe a few seconds. Go to the bathroom. Freshen my drink. Walk to my balcony and spend some time watching the traffic below and the people on the sidewalks and the way the clouds are crossing the sky.
Then I go back and read those pages. Sharpen the text. Break or combine paragraphs. Add a character or action detail Ė and sometimes remove some. Add or rearrange dialogue.
Notice something here? Iím now working more on the second or third level up from the word and sentence and paragraph level. Iím thinking about bigger issues, of the people and their actions and possible future consequences. Iím not spending a lot of time on this, but I am working on it.
And all the time my creative and critical sides are working together.
Finally, one comment. It helps (me at least) to think of every story as a succession of scenes or summaries of scenes, each one a succession of events with a definite beginning in time and space. (Not chapters, which can combine several short scenes. Or contain one long scene cut into chapters.)
I try to keep in mind the large overall structure of the story, several scenes performing some character or action arc, and the several arcs creating the entire book. My idea for those arcs may be, usually will be, very vague. This allows me the freedom to change them. But by having those arcs I have enough structure not to be completely lost in the vast seas of story possibilities.
And so I pass my days.