Everyone is different, but for me, writing is like sculpting.
First, come up with the point of my story, and write my top, really tight. I really hone that, until it is sharp and clear and I can return to it like a roadmap whenever I get lost in the mess that I know will follow.
Then, I vomit everything in my notebook out in one giant, messy regurgitation that verges on incomprehensibility. The only thing I make sure I get perfect is my quotes. No sloppiness. I go long so I can cut them back later, but I have everything down. I have completed that stage on the story that is now plaguing me and giving me nightmares, and that I am literally using this blog to procrastinate from.
Then I wait a few days (if I have the time) for my mind to clear, and sort, and organize on auto-pilot, without any input from me. During those days I am jotting down points I do not want to leave out, and details I am afraid I forgot to put in, and larger themes that I think need to be enhanced. I also agonize. A lot.
Then I wade back in, with a giant cup of espresso and cream, and read through the run-on mess that shames me to death, right through to the end.
Then I take notes again, on what each section is supposed to do, the function it is supposed to perform in this story. I weed out redundancies and move things around. I start whacking away at all the verbal weeds, so I can see my story more clearly.
And then, like a sculpture emerging from rock, it begins to show its form. When it does, like right now, I start to get really excited. I can see it. I can see the form. I think it is going to be beautiful. I get a rush of energy. I drink more coffee. I also get depressed. My God! It is going to take so much work to hack the beauty and meaning and truth from this hunk of verbiage!
I realize how lazy my words can be, how ill-conceived many of my steps. I beat myself up a little, for not being one of those people who writes out a perfect outlines, then sets to work and creates a nearly perfect draft.
But I also start to have fun. I cruise through and see some sharp little phrases and surprising emotions that glitter like little gems in the mess. I pluck them out and polish them and try to build around them.
I am starting to see a little beauty, a little sense, a little logic.
I have so much more to do. I am still whacking with large clumsy instruments trying to get to the form, the big, beautiful form that will carry the whole narrative. But I know it is there. I can see it and I will not lose it again. This part is actually fun, even if it takes forever, and it pains me to think of what my time is actually worth on a story like this.
How about you?
What is your writing process?
Please do tell, because I really am so curious, and would love a break from my own neurotic writer's mind.
2 years ago