Being an author, I am often asked about the writing process. Where do I write? What is the time of day I am the most creative? What equipment or software do I use? How do I get my ideas? The answers are straightforward. I write in my office and prefer the daytime from mid-morning to early evening. I type all my work on a pc with Windows and assistive technology software for the blind. I edit my work with this technology, listening to documents with text-to-speech access. Ideas come to me via observation, examination and experience. They form through dreams, news, conversations I hear, observing the sensory information and what surrounds me. Curiosity leads me through it all.
Once an idea reveals itself, I make a mental note to track it. . If it persists, if I fall asleep mulling it over and it is there the next morning, I know it is a subject or idea I must relax into for it to develop. When I say develop I mean a piece of something destined for words taking hold and growing. Setting an idea free means being conscious of it while it travels through my gray matter, collecting relevance and resonance until we meet again.
The most difficult question regarding the writing life is describing the creativity involved in the writing process. There isn’t a short answer, it’s more like paddling a canoe along the sluggish tidal pools and terrifying rapids of a miles-long river . An idea is the starting point. What if the dream I woke up remembering could be written into a short story? What if the influx and pattern of birds and their hierarchy at the feeders could be described in a poem? What if the blog articles I’ve already written on a particular topic could be organized into a handbook of some kind?
Once I know the idea is forming, I write a brief note to myself and step back, absorb my effort into another writing project. This is essential for the idea to continue developing.
For example, I got an idea for an urban fantasy short story about garden gnomes playing a major role in helping rescue prisoners of human trafficking in China with dimensional magic. I sketched out the timeline, location, characters, and other details. I researched elements in the story following a rough outline. I am a hybrid of a planner and a Pantzer, creating enough of a timeline of scenes and the story arc to follow but loose enough for it to flex as the story expands.
Next is the typing, word play, placement of scenes, theme of the story, plot, and deleting, replacing and revising.
When the story stalls, because inevitably it will stall as part of the evolution of the story, I go onto another project. I do not believe in writer’s block. I believe the story will write itself as long as I have faith it will do so. If the story is meant to be written and I am purposeful about writing it, it will get done.
Sometimes the ideas lay dormant for years, others seem to call to me in a more creative urgency. Some stories , after a few hundred pages sit in my manuscript folder on Drop Box because I wrote myself into a corner. I think about them all the time, consider pulling one up and begin the revision process. I am not the only author to lament unfinished work laying in the manuscript closet. Maybe a few will eventually be revived and become something for the masses, but I do not question. This is how my first two novels were completed. When the piece beckons, I’ll take up my creative paddles, push off into the word river and ride the current, trusting the words will come.