Process? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Process!

How many writing processes are there? Answer: How many writers are there? I find that writers tend to land on what works for them naturally.

My process is pretty much the same for every book. Now, being a former engineer, you might think that I’m all about Excel spreadsheets and plots and knowing where my turning points are within +/- 500 words.

Nope. I’m a total panster. I come up with a general idea, the characters, and a scene. Preferably the first scene which should be the inciting incident.

Sometimes, I’ll get the spark of an idea from a news story or song (while driving…always while driving.) This often happens when I’m in the middle of writing a different book. I like to use spiral bound notebooks to keep track of ideas. I’ll jot everything that comes to me in a notebook and set it aside until I have time to actually write it. IF I have time to write it. I have many notebooks waiting patiently for me.

I’m all about letting an idea marinate in my subconscious as long as possible before I start writing. Maybe that’s my equivalent to “plotting.” One thing I’ve learned is to keep scraps of paper around, including a waterproof notebook for the shower, to record ideas down that come out of my subconscious at the oddest moments. It could be a piece of dialogue or a plot twist or backstory. I’ve learned to be prepared to capture these jewels before I forget them. And I will forget if I don’t record them. (You will too!)

Let’s be clear: I don’t encourage anyone to follow my “process.” (Does it even qualify?) It can be stressful as you wander the barren landscape of a manuscript as the slobbering wolves of your deadline gain on you every minute.

What I would do is encourage you to embrace your process, whatever it may be. Don’t try to change your process because someone else says you should. I don’t care if they are an NYT bestseller or a well respected craft writer. You do you!

I’ve tried to change my process. I’ve read plotting book after plotting book. I’ve tried beat sheets and character interviews. But, I’m an impatient writer. I want to jump in and sink or swim. I don’t like the prework when I already know the first few scenes. I get to know my characters and learn their backstories and idiosyncrasies as I write. It’s fun!

Does that give you hives? Then, plot your little heart out before you write. Don’t fight the feeling. Embrace it. Learn to work with your process. And know that your process is as unique and as special as the book you’ll write!

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