Organic vs organised

There’s something hugely satisfying about writing organically – no clear-cut plan, just a strong sense of character, a few vivid scenes moving in the mind, and an inkling of how it’s all going to turn out. There’s freedom in watching as one image transmogrifies into another in the writer’s trance so that before you know it, the story is spooling out in Technicolor, creating itself like a dream.


But for the first time, I’m doing things very differently. I’ve written a detailed chapter plan for Dreamrunner and I’m systematically going through it. Sometimes it feels dreadfully mechanical; I sit at my desk and say, Right. It’s Monday. I need to write chapter thirty… OK, so what am I writing about? (I consult The Plan) Aha, it’s the scene with the street kid and the sapphire amulet. Where’s my pen? Here we go…


This change in technique is because of the deadline, of course, which I’ve realised I can either think of as a creativity-crusher or a creativity-liberator. A lot depends on the way you see things. Although having The Plan is a bit organised for my taste, I’m trying to see this as a valuable novel-writing technique, and it’s true I understand much more now how some writers manage to bang out two or more books a year – they must have a Plan!


The challenge I’m facing now with Dreamrunner is that although I know exactly where I’m going in terms of chapter-by-chapter plot development, I need to keep writing organically within this structure so the unexpected can still appear and the magical heart of the novel keeps beating freely. I find daydreaming in a café by the sea with a pen, The Plan and a chocolate croissant to hand does the trick. J

4 Responses to “Organic vs organised”

  1. Al Straughan, August 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Dear Clare Jay
    I’m registering for your Creative Writive class at OU. I’ve also just ordered Breathing in Colours – most exciting! I’m a 70 year-old Yank, permanently in the UK for 15 years. I ve had a number of parallel life experiences with you – 40 years in Southeast Asia, much experience in India where my daughter attended high school. I’ve written a novel about Vietnam that I’ve never submitted for publication. I’m writing a novel now (250 pages on paper)about a Yankee psychiatrist invoved with Voodoo in New Orleans. I’d like to talk to you about my goaLs in writing if you’ve time.Thanks, looking forward to the course.
    Cheers, Al Straughan

  2. Clare Jay, August 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Dear Al,
    It’s wonderful to know you’ll be doing the OU course, and I’m sure it’ll be very helpful to your writing process. I actually won’t be teaching this course presentation due to novel deadlines and various other commitments, but I’m sure your tutor will be happy to discuss your writing goals with you. All those travel/living abroad experiences you’ve had will work like magic if woven skilfully into your fiction and it sounds as if you have a wealth of interesting ideas and characters to work with. So enjoy it, and the very best of luck to you!

  3. Peter, November 27, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Hello Clare,

    I`m a fan of Your style of writing, Your stories and Your perspective of life.

    I wish You a lot of creative and exciting dreams to come up with more fascinating stories of life.

    Your german fan

  4. Clare Jay, December 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Hi Peter,

    thanks very much for the vote of confidence! Always good to hear.
    I wish you the same lovely things you wish me. 🙂


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