I enjoy reading about other writers and their processes. I’m primarily reading for ideas that I can incorporate or adapt into my processes, but I’m also curious about others’ takes on their creative processes. I’m often amused when people insist that writers must outline, or something like that. I tried outlining; it didn’t work for me. I felt that outlining drained the fun and creativity from my writing processes.
I was thinking about this today because I reached a pivot point. Writing organically, I’m journeying without a map. I like journeying without a map. I feel like an explorer crossing a new continent. Explorers decide, “There’s the sun; we’re following this river and heading that way for now. Let’s see where it goes.” I adapt that as, “There’s the ending; we’re following this path heading that way for now. Let’s see where it goes.”
Sometimes, as accounts of explorers will tell you, wrong turns are taken. Blind paths that lead to nowhere are followed. Yet, it’s not a loss, because they’ve expanded their body of knowledge.
That happens with me and my characters, too. They take a turn none of us expected. I don’t just follow then, though. I stop and ask, “Wait a moment. Where is this going? Are we sure we want to follow this path?”
As I’m also a non-linear writer, I’ll sometimes take a few days to write about other aspects while I think over the new potential path. By non-linear, I mean that I don’t write the novel in the order that the story is told, nor in the order of its final finish. I’m usually filling in expository bridges between action scenes during these periods. Action scenes, being sharper and more intense, come quickly, like a flash flood. In fact, I call it flash writing. A sudden inspiration strikes. It follows the general sense already created, so I let the flood happen. Other flash floods often occur in sequence as these major points are seen and grasped. After writing down their essentials, I edit and polish them, add details, and make changes for coherency and consistency.
By that point, they’re raw pearls. I want a necklace. Bridge scenes help me strand them together.
Sometimes, I make huge leaps. There’s an epiphany, and I spring forward to write it before I lose it. This is when I most feel like the novel already exists, and I’m just taking dictation.
Meanwhile, I write posts like this to help me understand what I think. As I thought about this little post and wrote it, my subconscious mind thought over the new piece and offered me some tent poles.
That caused a short interlude here as I explored the tent poles. I came to see how this new piece wasn’t all that new, but a latent piece I’d previously ignored. Indeed, I’d made a small reference to it once, back in the first volume’s first quarter. I’d flash-written some scenes without thinking about how to strand them together, but subconsciously, pieces were being put together. I just needed to remain persistent, let my mind work, accept what it gave me, and go for it. That, I think, sums up the whole writing like crazy philosophy.
I’ve got my coffee. Its smell helps me focus, its caffeine stimulates my creative energies, and it’s a component of my writing session routine. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.