It has been awhile since I have done a post about the writing process itself. The #QueryKombat Twitter party prompt for today has inspired me to go into more depth in this post about my writing process–where my ideas come from, the struggle of getting them to paper, and little glimpses into my process as a whole.
If you have read my blog at all, you know I write without a super detailed outline. So my ideas are free flowing. Usually, I don’t have a specific trajectory for the scene I am writing, or what the next scene will be. I have certain parameters which I like to structure for each individual chapter. I like to visualize each chapter when I sit down to write as the skeleton frame of an unfinished house–I know the basics of what this chapter will accomplish, but details get fleshed out as I go. While I am writing the chapter, that is when “the house,” to continue that analogy, gets walls and floors, etc.
Having the skeleton framework ready in my mind before I start a chapter is extremely important. If I don’t know a general concept of what I will be writing that day, I just won’t write. The blank page gets too intimidating when I have no clue whatsoever what to put down onto it. This has happened quite a bit during the drafting of Inductance, and also towards the end of Capacitance–these mini episodes of writer’s block pop up and steal a day of writing from me at times. However, I have a couple ways I combat this problem. The first, and most effective, is to go on a long run; the physical and mental benefits of distance running are enormous. As I coast down the hills and under the dappled shadows cast by trees, my mind wanders and my characters seem to speak to me. Entering a state of intense focus, I usually come away from a run with my mind centered and ready to write–I know the framework for what needs to come next. The second trick I use to spark my mind back into the story is to pull out my hard copy of the manuscript and read and edit it lightly. This re-familiarizes me with the characters and their stakes and usually prompts me to what needs to come next. Another tip: when I have several chapter ideas that I know I want to eventually construct, I write them all down in a list. Thus, I have many productive days crafting the chapters off the list!
The #QueryKombat prompt specifically asked writers if they prefer to write during the night or day. As I tweeted, I prefer to write in the early evening, in the hours leading up to supper. However, this is by no means a dominating preference as I can write at any time of day, as long as inspiration and time allow. All times of the day have their benefits–to me, the main point is just to get the words on the page. Don’t slot yourself into “only being able to write in the mornings” or, “I never write before 10 PM”–write whenever you can, when the mood strikes you, when you find yourself scrolling absentmindedly through Facebook! Habits are good to make, but as writers, we need to be flexible and not use our habits as excuses to procrastinate.
Finally, music. Another prompt featured on today’s #QueryKombat question. I have always been strange about music; I can’t stand it while I am writing, reading or doing some other deeply concentrated type of work. Don’t get me wrong, I love music! However, it distracts my brain heavily. Music does influence my work in other ways, though. Different songs remind me of my characters. The song “Superstar” by Broods reminds me of Mara and Runey’s relationship in Capacitance. I prefer music to inspire me in my non-writing times!
This post could go on for days–there are so many different stories and struggles to share about my writing process. Share your writing habits below! 🙂 And don’t forget to like my Facebook page–there’s now a “like” button on the sidebar of my homepage! I am at 84 likes thus far; when I reach 100 I will be sharing the first chapter of Capacitance! Like, like, like!
4 thoughts on “Getting Words to the Page–Insight Into My Writing Process”
Yahoo! I could relate to all you said in this post. I am not much of a runner anymore, but I do go to the gym and “work out” some plot bugs or, as you say, gain a chapter direction. Also a lover of music, I was a staff songwriter in Nashville, I need quiet to write because distractions are everywhere as it is. I enjoyed how you referred to needing to have a goal or purpose in mind or not much gets written. I am an early morning writer, but there are days when I don’t stick to that plan on purpose. I like to break things up and NOT be predictable. Your post encouraged me because sometimes it’s nice to know other writers with the same idiosyncrasies. Much success to you. Blessings, Don
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Thanks, Don! I am glad you could relate to my process! Writers are natural loners at times, but it is nice to know that there are others like us out in the world. The release of endorphins through exercise can make me feel so much more positive and energized to work–even if I don’t focus a specific chapter direction! I think sometimes authors (myself included!) can be hindered by their habits if they get too locked into a routine. Thank you again, I wish you the best as well! 🙂
I was in your brother’s class in highschool and am an aspiring writer. You are a great inspiration! I completely agree with what you said about writing. Any time of the day is good for me, but I struggle getting the words down. I get a lot of episodes of what I call “self-induced writer’s block” because I feel like what I write has to be perfect. Also, I can’t write with music either. It’s way too distracting but makes for wonderul inspiration.
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I remember you! 🙂 I know all about writer’s block! When I first started writing Capacitance, the idea had been in my head for almost three years. Three years of self doubts and criticizing my idea and trying to make it perfect before I ever let a substantial amount of words hit the page. There were two or three attempts to start the novel, but they all fell flat. Finally, one night, sitting in bed, writing freehand, a first chapter that I was satisfied with flowed out. Long story short, after getting past that first chapter, I had the whole novel finished in three months. The ideas were there; I just needed the confidence to execute them. I know you will get there too! My biggest piece of advice for you is to try and overcome the fear and self-criticism and simply write. Many times I have written a chapter, drug my feet, felt terrible about it, then gone back to actually read what I’d done and it was good. I believe you’ll surprise yourself too, and your confidence will only build from there. Good luck. 🙂