Thinking about my writing process this morning, I think I may have left people with the impression that my muses just dictate to me. That’s a false impression. I write about it in that vernacular a lot because of how the entire process ends up happening, but it’s more involved than that. I’m sure most understand that, but as I’m overly bent toward being pedantic and over-analytical, I’m going to enlarge on my process.
The muses fill me with a concept, general story arc, and the main character. A few other characters and some reveal points follow. This all happens very fast. Ideas constantly bang on my mind to enter the writing realm. Many are rejected outright. Some are briefly entertained about how they can be expanded. Others get a more thorough mind treatment but had deferred until later (which may not ever come).
A few ideas enter the writing hopper where they’re given more writing cogitating time. This is where the muses really enter, tossing ideas about the story and how it can develop. Sometimes, these come on very strong, concrete, and specific. When that triumvirate arises, the writing urge is ignited. It then depends on my schedule and projects that are underway. When I was younger, I split myself between projects. With more experience, I’ve developed a routine of focusing on one project until it reaches some stage of completion. They’re then often edited and revised. After that, they can go in different directions.
Meanwhile, my organic writing-like-crazy process isn’t that straightforward. The muses suggest and I counter suggest. I’ll often consider and present multiple possibilities for character development, story arcs, and how a scene goes. I present them to the muses. They reject, accept, or modify them.
Even then, when I sit down to write, it often doesn’t come out as envisioned. Things take place that I never foresaw. This is the true writing-like-crazy process, and when I give full control to the muses. It comes out and I do my best to type it up without analyzing it or putting it into perspective with the rest of the story, arcs, etc. That comes afterward, when I think about where this piece has taken me and what needs to change, along how it’ll be changed, and why it needs to change.
Of course, the muses and the entire process is mine. There aren’t little elves or gorgeous creatures inhabiting and haunting me, telling me what to write. What I call out as the muses is a deeper subconscious level of thinking and creativity that seems to work at high levels of complexity and speed, and its my intuition. I can’t keep up with that thinking on my conscious levels. I’ve learned to trust that process, not because of great creative or critical success, but because, from that process comes the story-telling, novels, and tales that I enjoy. I write for myself. It saddens me that others don’t enjoy it. I hope that’ll change someday, preferably while I’m alive.
Likewise, when I say that the characters have taken over, I’m using a shorthand to describe a process. The characters were put into a situation. I thought about what could happen and different directions that they might take, and then let it settle into my subconscious mind’s chasms for greater process. Results then spring out when I sit down to write. Sometimes, of course, they spring out beforehand, and sometimes they just explode into my thinking an awareness at awkward moments. Words heard or read, realizations, photographs, a piece of song, a splash of light, a burst of noise…multiple things trigger that explosion.
In the end, my process is all about negotiations, negotiations about how commercial or artistic I’ll let myself flow, the directions I do and don’t want to take, and my acceptance to write like crazy, accept that it needs work, and then keep working on it later, and the intuition to accept this feels right, coupled with the understanding, nothing is permanent. Better ways might emerge. Stay open to them.
Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy. at least one more time.