Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

Try, Try Again
By Karla Brandenburg

Sometimes, I’m like a bull in a china shop, although I make the attempt not to do permanent damage and knock things over.

I have a tendency to rush into things, to be in a hurry. This has come to my attention again recently as I 1) started to write this post (I used my original attempt on my personal blog instead), and 2) started on my next novel. I dive in, pour it all out there, and then look at what I’ve done. You know those images you’ve seen of authors tearing the first page from the typewriter, crumpling it up and throwing it away? Yep. I’ve done that twice on my current work (except without the paper waste – I work electronically). I don’t need to tell you the whole story in the first chapter.

I also have experience with programming, and I use that same approach, much to my husband’s chagrin. Trial and error. I work much faster trying and starting over than I do working methodically and planning out each step, and yes, I know that’s not the accepted method for doing things. My husband is the exact opposite. From the standpoint of time spent, we come out at the same endpoint, but for me, I like to think that by trying all the possibilities, I’m learning something in the process – we learn from our failures. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!

We went for a walk the other day, and I was brainstorming one of my problems with my husband. He took the opportunity to once again tell me to stop and take my time instead of rushing ahead. We’ve been married long enough that he should know that’s not the way I operate, even if it makes him crazy to watch me. My only defense is that I’ve worked that way for as long as I can remember, the first time being in Kindergarten when the teacher scolded me for working ahead. Once I understand something, I want to learn more, and I’m not patient enough to wait for the rest of the class. It wasn’t until high school that I found a teacher who rewarded that, who actually gave us a syllabus and told us to work at our own pace. (Thank you, Mrs. Ferguson.)

As long as we all get to the same result and I haven’t destroyed any “china dolls” in the process, I have to accept that “working ahead” is my nature, and it works for me. How about you? Are you a planner or a doer?

For a peek at some of the things Karla has “done,” visit her page at https://www.karlabrandenburg.com

Comments

  1. I love your post, Karla. I’m married to a planner as well. In an earlier life I was a planner, and in some ways, I’m still organized, but it’s in my own way. I also like to work ahead because it suits me better. When I have something going at warp speed through my thoughts, I need to get it one paper or pixels before it escapes. I haven’t learned how to write book scenes out of order, but if one occurs to me in that way, I’ll be sure to let it out. I can be that orderly person, but then all you get are orderly thoughts. When I allow disorder into the mix, I find creativity flourishes. We must be sisters of the mind.

    • Disorder – yes. For most people, the opposite of order is chaos, but that isn’t ALWAYS the case. Sometimes disorder is experimentation, and oh, the things we discover through experimenting!

  2. tinawhittle says:

    Novels I write by doing, by the seat of my pants. Everything else in life I plan. This explains so much about why I’m crazy half the time.

    • Yes, I like to plan ahead, also. I like structure. On my recent trip to New Orleans, one of the tour guides mentioned “People come here and say I’ve found my people” because they’re so laid back. I turned to my husband and said, “I love this place, but these are not my people.” I need that structure.

  3. I’m definitely a planner. I like to look at all the options and then choose the best one. This goes for my writing, too. I do a synopsis before I begin writing. Things can change as the story develops but I need my guide map or I’d be lost.

    • One of the reasons I tend to write so fast and all at once. I don’t want to lose my thread, but then, when I reach a certain point and realize it isn’t my best option, I have to go back to fix it all. With our without the map. (Just found one of those in my current work in process!)

  4. I tend to be impulsive, but I’m open to change. If I suggest potential activities with the Hubster, (let’s say going out for Mexican food), then once he agrees, it’s etched in stone. I, on the other hand, have no problem switching to the BBQ place or the Asian place at the last minute. If a different mood strikes me, he’ll say, “I thought we agreed on XXX.”

    • Funny analogy. When I agree on the food, and then DH suggests an alternative, I tend to get annoyed because I’ve just agreed, and now he’s changing his mind (this is based on his comments that I can’t make up my mind – I JUST DID).

  5. I’m much more effective determining alternatives and brainstorming than I am a sitting down and logically plotting out a novel. Writing code was different for me: I could visualize how to go from point A to B and wrote it down with very little need for modification.

    ~ Jim

    • Agreed! And with the coding, I put down what I know and then have to “pants” the parts that need to be smoothed out. That doesn’t work so well in coding, hence the trial and error until I get the code right (I’m close, but sometimes not right). Code isn’t as forgiving as the writing.