The Writing Process
The Writing Process. It sounds so…ominous. And important. And honestly, I have no idea what exactly it means. What IS a writing “process,” anyway? Is it like…processing cheese, or what?
The obvious answer is, of course, that nope. Writing is nothing like making cheese. At least I assume so, since I’ve never actually made cheese, at least not on purpose. There were a few times when the milk got left out in strange places and we ended up with SOMETHING in the bottom of the cup that looked a lot like cottage cheese…Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe the writing process is a lot like that, after all.
You put a bunch of stuff in the cup, and you let it sit in a strange place until it curdles and becomes something else.
For me, all books or stories start with a big WHAT IF. Sometimes these are random and meaningless and never turn into anything good. Sometimes I think they’re the best ideas, ever, but they turn out not to sustain a full plot. Other times, these WHAT IF moments are tiny sparks that seem like nothing and turn out to be some of my all-time favorites. TEMPTED started out that way. Just the kernel of an idea — a man in love with his best friend…AND the best friend’s wife. How would that work out? To this day, Tempted is the book I wrote the fastest. It was like a roller coaster. I got on it every morning and I wrote and wrote and wrote, and by the end of the day I was still interested in the ride.
Other times, it’s not so easy. ALL FALL DOWN came about with an idea about what happens to the people who are left behind when a cult implodes. I had a lot of ideas about how the story would go. Who’d be important in it. Subplots. Introspection. As I wrote it, though, the core of the story became more apparent and more important. The ideas I’d had about what being in a cult would mean became streamlined, and I’ll confess, I found a place in which I understood why someone would want to go back to a life most people would consider horrifying and strange, how our “normal” could be terrifying to someone without the ability to process it.
So, I guess that’s my writing process. Start with an idea and stir it up with a bunch of other stuff. See what sticks. Watch what comes out of it. Add different ingredients and let them ferment. Sometimes, boy, do they ever stink. But sometimes what comes out is ambrosia!
If I wanted to explore the idea of a writing process further, I’d have to admit that I do have a technical process. I sit at my computer (or less often, some other location) and I write. I write some more. I break for Twitter and email and instant message and Facebook. I write more. Then some more. When I’m done with that part, I print it out and go over it a few times, making changes. I enter them into my computer document. I read it again. Then again. I tweak and polish and change until I’m satisfied. I listen to music while I write. I drink Coke Zero and coffee and hot tea and pink lemonade. I don’t often switch things up like some writers I know who write in longhand or change their location or work on different projects. My technical process is pretty simple. I sit down. I write. I edit. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Somehow, it seems like it should be more magical than that. Something with elves or something. Fairy dust. Billowing white curtains and ivory candles, my muse trilling gently in my ear while the words trip one by one from my fingertips onto the page…
Now THAT would be a process!
Writers — do you have a process?
Readers — do you have an idea of what a writer’s process is like, or has the internet and posts like this ruined the idea of us slaving away in our garrets by candelight, swilling wine and whiskey and dancing to the tune of invisible voices?
To learn more about me and my work, please visit www.meganhart.com.