I have been writing and writing and writing at the moment. Once I think I am done writing, I find myself writing some more. I hand write everything first, so the middle finger on my right hand is swollen, and my wrist is aching from the effort. I have been writing a story that has been in my heart and mind for around seven years now. I have somehow never seemed to get it down on paper. It was such a daunting task, and I had no idea how to begin such a huge story.
Thanks to a little bit of advice from Twitter, all of that was able to change. I read a post on mind-mapping, via @curiosityquills, and I decided to give it a go on this story. As a teacher I make my students use mind maps a lot, so I feel a bit dim for not having thought to use them myself. What I came up with was, not a plan for my story, but a springboard from which to start planning. I was able to discover who was linked with who, who hated who etc.
My next step was to work backwards from the end of the story. I knew how the overall story ended for my characters (although that's not necessarily the spot where the story ends for the reader), so I tried to map the story from there. I was able to do this quite well, but then I became stuck. I wanted to make too many jumps and leaps, and my planning method was just too linear to allow that. I gave up for the day and went back to some more research, hoping this would give me some inspiration (it did!).
The next day I decided to start from the beginning. Not from the beginning of the story I wanted to tell, but from the beginning of my characters' lives. It was very Genesis of me. "In the beginning there was...", and the story began to take on a life of its own. The moment I got to a certain point in the overall tale I knew that it was the perfect place to begin my story. I never would have thought to begin the story in such a way -- who would have thought to start a story with a death?
This story I wish to tell is still a huge undertaking, but thanks to careful planning, character profiles, character mapping, and seven years worth of on-again-off-again research I feel I am finally on the way to releasing this story into the world.
P.S. Does anyone have a cure for callous pain on your writing finger? So far I am just wrapping it up in Band-aids :/