Tag Archives: writing process

On process

I’ve become very interested in the nuts and bolts of how other writers work, for some reason. I used to be obsessed with this, to be honest, when I was realy wanting to write but for some reason not able to make it happen. I guess I was always hoping I’d stumble upon some secret way of doing things that would make it all click together. Obviously, never happened …

anyway, blame Tobias Buckell. I find particulalry apt the picture of himself plotting, as my process is similar, but sometimes looks a lot like me surfing random crap on the internet for “inspiration” and, of course “research.” A wikipedia addiction can be a terrible thing.

Anyway, my process has finally evolved into something that worked for me. I am at the point now that I can make the writing happen when I need it to and not be at the mercy of the muse, who never really shows up at the right time, and usually babbles on about a hundred different things at once when she does. yes, those of you who know me in real life, my nine-year-old, red-headed, adhd daughter is probably my muse given physical form.

So, if you are like me and like this kind of thing, here is the process …

step 1 — (we’re starting at part three of a writing day, but you’ll see why in a second) “compose” three pages (or so) in my moleskine notebook. With my handwriting, this is usually about 1000 words. I find that I cannot feel creative trying to write first drafts on a computer screen. There’s something about the feel of the paper as its texture makes certain vibration in the pen or pencil as it’s moved across, something very tactile that accesses deeper layers in the brain. I’ve tried to do it straight to the computer, but the work is not as good. Once this is done, I put the writing away for the day.

step — 2 this usually happens early in the morning. I take what I typed up yesterday, which has been printed out in green ink, and mark it up with a blue pen. I try to do this as I read it aloud. This is the “bleeding smurf” phase of the writing, and it hurts about as much as it sounds. This is the phase of the murdered darlings. Then I go back into the word document, and make the marked changes. I print the day’s work out and leave it in the computer tray so I do not lose it and waste more paper and ink reprinting it (as you can see, there are multiple challenges here).

step 3 — I get out the moleskine and I type in what I “composed” the day before. The first time in, I type it in green, so I’ll know where the fresh stuff is. It also helps psychologically so that I’m not committed yet to specific phrasings or sentence structures, and for some reason don’t feel as bad about undoing the work I’ve done later.

return to step 1.

It seems like it would be a lot of extra work, and would slow me down to do it this way, especially the writing and then retyping, but working this way, with sort of a rolling three day edit going on, it prevents me from getting bogged down in the whole-project editing phase, which is where a lot of stuff dies because I hate editing and the thought of doing a complete project all at once, in all the detail it would require, makes me get out my procrasti-nation issued passport and head anywhere else but here. Usually, final read-throughs are much less painful this way.

i was thinking about posting a picture of my desk here too as that is all the rage these days, but have decided to spare you the horror. Besides, i would need to get a release from all of my star wars expanded universe action figures, who are currently involved in a major sith vs. jedi campaign. So far, the Jedi are holding the territory around the water fountain, but Mara Jade is having a hard time fighting off Darth Talon, who’s sneaking around the computer speakers … se we should probably wait until they’re done. It’s just polite …

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Posted by on July 5, 2009 in life, writing


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