Ayan is a fantasy novel I began writing in 2003. Currently it remains unfnished.
My (wrong) approach to writing
When I started writing this story, I had no plans other than "I want to write a book!" I didn't have any plans for what the plot would be, what kind of hook it would have, what kind of lesson the story would teach, what kind of character arcs I would use, etc. I suppose I already understood that it would probably have a fantastical setting, like a sci-fi or a fantasy, purely because those were settings that enticed me. But nothing that was honestly important in terms of structure.
I have since learned that this is both a bad thing, and a not-quite-good thing.
It can be a bad thing, obviously, because there is no structure on which to build a lengthy story. But it can also be a not-so-bad thing because it is just a method of discovery writing. And I discovered a lot. I discovered a lot about my writing style, about the characters that formed, about the world I was creating, and so forth. Even though the actual words that I had written were not good (and honestly, fairly punishing to read,) I still began to form an understanding of what I could write.
Unfotruntely, a lot of what I had learned really came to late. After writing a tremendous amount, I cam to realize that this story was struggling because it lacked a good foundation, and I stopped writting "just whatever came to my head" with the plan to form a more concrete outline before continuing. But that doesn't really work with my writing style, because I don't really know what events will come to pass unless I am actively writing. And since I stopped writing, I stopped creating, and so this story just stopped getting worked on.
Later, I came to understand very important things about writing. Mostly I learned these fromvarious writing panels at comic cons. I learned things like how some writers are architects who plan out every detail before they begin creating anything, and some writers are gardeners who watch everything grow, and learn to prune and cultivate their story as it takes form. (More accurately, everyone in on a scale between these two extremes.) And I, obviously, am a gardener. Most of what I felt were the most stunning surprises in my novel were things that surprised me; I didn't know things about my characters' history until they were revealed in the story; I didn't know how threads were going to come back together until they crossed each other. And at these panels I also learned important tips and guides for how to write long stories as a gardener.
But unfortately, these important lessons did not come to me until a good ten years after I started writing, but worse yet, a good five years or so after I stopped.
I still have interest in picking up this story, but I also understand that it is going to require me being able to sit down and work exlusively on it for a good measure of time to grow enough of the story out to see where it will really go. That puts it at odds with the myriad of other projects I want to work on, like video games, my webcomic, or even other writing projects.
But even if the work of completing the story has come to a halt, I still have laid the foundation of some characters and a world setting. And when I have thought about what diretion I may want to take my story, I have seen certain elements that echo into other works.