I get asked a lot about my writing process and what works for me. What inspires me. People who have read my work (my awesome Beta Readers, for example), want to know how I come up with the things I do, am I a plotter or pantser, is there any relevance to my characters names, how do I make time to write when I have a day job, and all that jazz.
I’m a planner by nature. In my job, in my personal life, in my writing. So when I get a shiny new idea in my head, I write it down. I carry around a journal, so no matter where inspiration hits, I have a place to put it. I have journals stocked full of random words, phrases, descriptions, events, whatever hits me. For me, this is step one, and a crucial step to my writing process.
The sparkly idea usually bounces around my head along with a few others; burrowing, clawing, fighting for supremacy. Eventually one of them wins. It grows, becomes more cohesive, like a gigantic beast crawling out of the far recesses of my mind, waiting for the right moment to be released so it can wreak havoc on my pages. That’s when I sit down and outline. I like having a guide for my story, a direction I’m headed. That’s the planner in me. But once I start writing, my characters take over. If I had a plan for them and they decide they don’t want to listen to me, things change. That’s why my outline is just a guideline.
The outlining part is usually when I name my main characters, because I create little biographies for each fo them. I like to know their quirks, history, their deepest, darkest secrets. Some of their names just come to me around this time, some of them I have to hunt for. A few have meanings that are relevant to my stories, though I won’t tell you which ones. You’ll have to guess. :-)
As much as I’d love to be a full time writer, having a day job pays the bills. But I love writing so much that it’s not something I’m willing to give up. Ever. So when I come home from work, I write. Some people unwind and watch television in the evenings. I don’t. I spend my evenings and weekends writing, and reading, and writing some more, because part of being a good writer is being a good reader. My husband, with his infinite patience, is used to this, though at times he still has to pry me away from the keyboard or a book to socialize.
But I love it. I can remember the first book I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the characters, felt like they were my friends, cried and laughed when they did. And that’s what I strive to do. Write books that draw readers in. Make them feel every emotion along with my characters, create stories that are utterly unputdownable.
This is just the beginning though, because after the shiny idea has turned into a novel, the editing and rewrites start. And I really love that part too. I love slashing and tearing my work to shreds, only to rebuild it into something even more spectacular. That's for another post though.
So this is how I write, how I create. It works for me. And there’s a lot of advice floating around out there on what works well for this writer or that writer. But every writer is different. There is no right way to write. Something that works for one writer, doesn’t work for another. So try new things, be okay with failing at some of them, learn from them, and grow. Always move forward.
Do what works for you. Keep honing your craft. Never give up.