by Laura Drake
I read a lot of newsletters, ezines, podcasts, and blogs about writing. One of the most popular subjects is how to do it – not craft, but process of creating a book. Pantster? Plotter? Start on page one? Start with scenes and fill in the blanks? Start at the end and plot backwards (I understand this works for mystery writing.) I can never resist these articles, because frankly, this is fascinating stuff.
In this busy, structured world, we have instructions for almost everything you’ll run across. Writing is pretty much the same. You can take classes or buy a book for almost every aspect of craft: grammar, POV, show don’t tell, editing. Even how to find inspiration, or conquer writer’s block.
But nowhere can you learn how to actually write the darned thing! I’ve struggled with this, like every other writer. I believe it’s the major reason most people don’t finish books – not because they don’t have ideas, or characters, but the function of actually getting it out of your head and onto the page the way you pictured it is complicated.
There’s a reason there aren’t any books about this: there’s only one right way – yours. The problem is, you have to discover it! To me, it’s like trying to put a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle together blindfolded. . . it can be done, but it’s not fast, and it’s not efficient. You learn by fumbling around, trying what works for others and stumbling onto ways no one else uses!
I’ll bet if you talked about this to Nora, Linda Howard, or others who have written many books, they'd tell you that they’re still finding their processes as they go along. It sure would have helped me when I started to know this!
MY way (as of today):
•Mostly Pantser – need an idea of where I’m going, maybe a theme and an ending, and that’s it.
•Write a couple of pages in one sitting (on a good day), then the next, begin by editing yesterday’s work and moving forward
•Music – Classical and in the background
•Writing desk – organized, but crowded (usually with a cat sleeping on the desk or in my lap)
•The room – reference books, magazines, plotting board, bulletin board with photos and writing memorabilia.
•Plotting – on a bicycle, with a digital voice recorder. Something about the distraction of riding loosens my brain. I could sit in front of a blank screen forever, and nothing would come.
•Final Editing – one name – Margie Lawson.
What about you? Post a comment about your process!