Monday, July 4, 2016

Another missive about process.

This is just a way to quantify the process--it's a lot more amorphous than this, but you'll get the idea.

So I need only a single idea to start writing. Which is the way I used to do it.

I'd have an opening idea, and usually in the course of writing the chapter, I'd come up with more ideas: let's say, for the sake of argument, I come up with 10 good ideas. That's an adequate number, along with the connective tissue, to continue the story. I'd have to come back later and try to flesh out the story.

But I've changed my process. Now I start with no ideas, or one idea, or several ideas, but I think it through. I wait. I tease it out, let it come to me. Often on my walks, I will have multiple ideas. I wait until I'm almost bursting, at a point where I'm in danger of forgetting all the ideas, and then I sit down and write.

Here's the thing. Instead of starting with one idea, I now start with, let's say, 10 ideas; and in the course of writing, I come up with the other 10 ideas. So now the chapter has 20 ideas instead of 10. I still have the opportunity to flesh it out later, so now I have, let's say, 25 ideas.

Along with the ideas, I also have to approach the day's writing with a "feeling." The feeling doesn't have to be explicated, it just has to be there.

I usually have some trigger when I know I've "got" it.

I trust my subconscious on this. It's amazing how little I forget. Multiple ideas jangling around, but when it comes time, they all come spilling out on paper.

When in doubt, I try to tap into the parallel universe these ideas come from.  That universe is in my head, but it doesn't feel that way. The best stories seem to already exist, or are potential glimmers that need to be brought to reality.

But until they are down on paper, they don't really exist for anyone else.

One last thing: this is fun, and sometimes it's almost euphoric. I don't believe bleeding words on paper is the right approach, at least for me. My writing is best when it comes "easy."

Of course, in the end, it is never "easy." It always has to be worked on, rewritten, rethought, fleshed out or cut. The work comes, but not when I'm writing the first draft.

That's the fun part.

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