I can’t be 100% sure if other writers do this…but I feel like they must on some level, at least. Once a story/article/book is finished, I begin to think about writing a new story. Much like an expectant mother, I start getting ready for the delivery. I do this in a variety of ways, but it helps me get excited about this hard thing that I know is coming. I buy new pens. I buy new notebooks. I scrutinize both, because I want to make sure I am getting exactly what I want, because I am really going to be using these things to produce something. Something magical and messy and of my own creation. I like to write in longhand on paper (lined OR unlined OR quadrille…it all depends), because it feels more real to me…like I’m getting my hands dirty while I’m making this thing come to life.
Now that I think about it, maybe I’m more like Frankenstein.
When it’s a big project, I necessarily have (likely) been writing snippets here and there…I gather these together and will often try to type them up. The typing process is the first editing pass for me. I add a lot of detail or new paragraphs, cobbling sentences together in a different ways, changing words here and there so it flows better, adjusting names, creating new characters…this is where I may become more like a mad scientist…trying to sew things together that don’t necessarily *go* together or adding ingredients in a random alchemy, hoping for a speck of gold, a grain of a gem. Then again, if things are already taking some sort of shape as far as format or chronology, I start blocking those things together into convenient packages known as…chapters! And characters formerly intended to be mere background become main characters or even…(gasp)…the protagonist! Bwahahahahaha! It’s ALIVE!
Ahem. Sorry…probably taking that metaphor a little too far.
If I really get into creating this new world, I draw pictures of scenes, characters, their cars, their pets, their family members, maybe jewelry if it is important. I used to cut pictures out of magazines, but those images almost never match what is in my head. Sure my sketches are a tad bit cartoonish, but if I can glean the “feeling” of what I have in my mind, it helps to keep it solidified–another way to make it all seem more real. It can also be an exercise in just creating that world on a different level…it helps me identify details I hadn’t thought of before and to simplify overly complicated ideas. It also helps me realize that my strength is writing and definitely NOT drawing.
And then, when I feel like I am ready, I start carving out more and more time to let my ideas get on to paper. If I have a lot to get out, the biggest challenge is to just allow myself to write and write and write, with as little on-going editing as possible. If I get stuck, as you have witnessed with my previous blog-posts, I make myself use writing prompts or exercises to get the thoughts flowing again. These exercises are like Lamaze classes, making me get through the writing process with intent and focus. Or maybe it’s more like opening a new grave, scavenging for anything that will work to fit in that empty socket.
As I consider this next project, I find myself growing anxious about it, because it is going to be my first book-length undertaking since before going to grad school (I wrote a romance novel when I was 18…it was BEYOND terrible. Then I wrote a slightly more interesting (historic!) romance novel when I was like…24? I didn’t finish the second one and I lost the first one, so it is time to try it again). Part of me thinks I should wait until NaNoWriMo rolls around again, but…that wouldn’t be fair to the story I am trying to bring to light, nor would it be fair to my own self in my attempt to get my hands on that writer’s life I want to forge for myself. And waiting around for the right time is…such a ridiculously lame procrastination ploy. Especially when I am in the middle of trying to write like my life depends on it.