Well, here we are again. It is amazing how many times I’ve come back to the blank page, thinking that nothing would come of it. I am often dismayed by crafting a story that is already formed inside my head. I sometimes obsess over questions that plant seeds of doubt.
Will the story translate well to the page?
Will people be moved by it?
Will people find this story entertaining?
Will I ever be able to write something this good again?
I’ve discovered that, for the most part, this happens to all writers. John Grisham takes six months to write a book, and he always starts on January 1st. John Irving writes the ending of each story first and tries to build a novel around it. Dean Koontz makes several drafts of each page before he moves on to the next one.
What I’ve found is that every writer has a process. But it is weird that I hadn’t figured out mine until just a few short weeks ago.
My process for writing is as follows:
1. Get an interesting “What If?” Idea.
2. Let the characters and plotlines gradually unwind in the mind.
3. Write 30 to 60 perfect pages.
4. Abandon the story for a while.
5. Come back to the story, re-read what I wrote before.
6. Let the characters drive
7. Write the last 50 pages in a glorious fury
I once thought that this process was clunky and erratic and didn’t make much sense. But then again, a story is like that in its rawest form. It needs to be shaped, polished, molded. I used to buck against these 7 steps I would take, thinking that I wasn’t taking the craft of writing seriously. But now I find that as jumbled as this process seems to be it is still uniquely my own.
I still jump in and out of stories at my own pace. I still have hundreds of pages of half-finished stories. And I’m always mind writing; thinking of another line or plot point or character to put in a book as I continue on with my life. It has become a daily habit to think of a story and continue to shape it without having to write a word.
So imagine my surprise when I looked at my list of published works and found out that I had not released a new work in over two years! By all accounts, it would seem that the well had run dry, that the fairies and sprites of inspiration and imagination had left me for greener pastures. That I am experiencing a writer’s drought. But that is not the case.
I still plan on revisiting the world of Olde Country in Ye Olde Idea Shoppe. There are a few characters who get solo adventures that are tied to Pickpocket Frankie. There’s still a second part to mysterious Mr. Dead Eyes and there are even a few surprises in between. I still have novellas that are over the halfway mark. I still have a memoir or two. I am even trying out a book of poems.
So even though nothing has seen the light of day, I have still been working on writing in some capacity.
While my process is not entirely predictable I have now come to own it and take pride in it and realize that, well, that’s just the way my brain works.
So, at least for now, I have to go back and tend to my crops. They need watering. But keep a sharp eye and you just may see the fruits of my labors.