Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My favorite part of writing is the naps, walks and meditation

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. -Agatha Christie

Every writer I know has said time and again that their best ideas come to them at the oddest times, for example-while doing the dishes...or in the shower...or that blissful moment when you're finally drifting off to sleep...
I'm sure we've all been there. Reaching for a paper towel and a pen from above the fridge to jot down the wonderful book concept or scene idea or line of dialogue before it escapes us completely. Or jumping out of bed to run for our laptop to finish that scene that has been plaguing us. I'm actually guilty of waking my husband up to give him a few trigger words to say to me the next morning so I'll remember the idea floating around in my semi-conscience state:)
So, as it turns out-most of our 'writing' is not writing at all, therefore I have a hard time recording my progress on a novel based on daily word count. Ultimately, the words need to fill the pages, but what about the other stages?
In Rosanne Bane's, Around The Writer's Block, she describes six stages of the creative process. The first is that wonderful moment when a new idea for a storyline comes to you. She calls it 'First Insight'. If you're a plotter, this is where you sit down and start brainstorming, freewriting, outlining the bigger picture, while recognizing the holes that still need to be developed.
Next, is the stage she calls 'Saturation', the research behind the novel. If you still love libraries, like me, you dash off to lose yourself among the aisles of books, setting up camp on the floor between the shelves, soaking up all the knowledge you can. Others prefer the internet for their research and have their favorite go-to sites. Right now, I am currently writing book two of my Brookhollow series and my hero is a firefighter. My 'research' of course consists of visiting as many fire halls in Edmonton as I can. I want to be thorough right?:)
The next stage is my favorite-'Incubation'. This is where we do everything but write. We nap, we walk, we do busy work to keep our hands occupied. All the while letting the ideas mingle with what we've learned through our researching, until scenes begin to form. Which leads to stage four-Illumination. The 'aha' moment we all love more than chocolate and wine. The moment when we have to stop talking about our book and just savor it. This stage is exhilarating, but also, for me, a little scary because now that I know what to write, I start to doubt my ability to do justice to this idea on paper. Can I bring it to life?
Next stage-Verfication. Yes, I can bring it to life and this is the stage to do it. This is the time to write the first draft, no editing or revising-just writing. Spelling mistakes, grammatically errors-who cares? This is the creative time. Everything else can be fixed in the final stage six-Hibernation. In this stage, we let the work 'cool off' and sit for awhile. Nothing new is created now, we just relax and regroup before the revisions and edits begin.
Therefore, in this outline of the stages of writing-there's really only one stage where we actually 'write', but we have to account for all the time spent dreaming and fantasizing and creating. To me, that's the real job of a writer. And of course, who doesn't love calling nap time-'working'?
Anyway, that's it for me. I'd love to know what everyone's favorite stage is!

xo
Jen

12 comments:

  1. Excellent, Jen! Another must copy and paste for my summer class!

    I love the initial idea-getting part of it all because it's the one part where I feel competent. I can get ideas! Who hoo! And I've always thought about the Incubation stage as a sort of centrifugal process. I throw all kinds of things into it, they swirl and swirl in my head and eventually the good stuff that I need starts to fly out of it and I capture that. I, too, always feel less than adequate for the rest of the process. Sometimes, though, miraculously, it sounds good when I read the finished product. That's probably thanks to good editors.

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    1. Thanks Muriel!
      I love that idea of a centrifuge:) That's exactly how it feels!!

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  2. Jennifer, great condensing of the writing stages. I never stopped to sort them out before, but I recognize the steps you list. I like the idea stage best. For me it usually begins with characters who pop into my head in the dead of night. Even before I started writing I had people who appeared in my sleep to tell me snippets of their life stories. Now I wish they'd come more often. LOL I worry that I found places to put them all and new people won't show up. The process is work, aiyii! I sometimes lose interest after I wrestle characters into a synopsis. Going for walks is when I like to work out hitches or problems. I also like Muriel's notion of putting it all in a centrifuge and sifting it down.

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    1. Thanks Roz!
      I can't take the credit for condensing them, that belongs to Rosanne Bane-her book Around The Writer's Block is amazing, because it's a neuroscience book that examines what happens in the brain when we experience this 'block'. I find having a physical explanation helps me move past it. Great book!
      I too find that writing the synopsis before the book is done makes me lose interest for a while. Glad it's not just something I struggle with:)

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  3. Hi Jen! I love your post and it definitely puts all that non-writing time into perspective because,as you said, the dreaming and imagining is such an important part. Sometimes, on long car rides, I'll entertain myself by making up a story in my head- figuring out the conflicts, characters, plot... All the fun stuff. I'll usually look for something I see on the trip to start me off- like an abandoned car on the side of the road or some roadside produce sellers- really anything. Weird, right? lol

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  4. Thanks Karen! I love car rides for coming up with ideas too. Not weird at all lol:)Or at least if it is weird, we're in it together lol.

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  5. So, there's a line in your post that says, "If you're a plotter, this is when..."

    What about if you're a pantser? LOL

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  6. I think we are on our own at that stage lol. I'm a pantser too.

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  7. Okay, I'm just an idiot. What's a pantser? Fly by the seat of your pants? Can't get the pants off the chair? What? What??

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    1. Yes, that's right Muriel. We just start writing, with no direction and hope for the best:)

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  8. I knew Agatha Christie and I were kindred spirits! I just received my line edits, so we've been eating a lot of carryout this week. However, there's always dishes to wash for some reason. So on one of my "breaks", I'll wash dishes and ruminate over the editing I just did. I get a lot of ideas that way :)

    I must say that my fave stage is Illumination. I love getting to those aha moments. The points where things start to make sense and connect. The little piece of backstory that makes everything else fall into place. And you can't force those. But they're often found washing the dishes LOL.

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  9. I love that stage too. Especially when I realize that something I wrote in the beginning was for a reason I hadn't yet realized. Like my subconscious knew the full plot line before I did. Does that happen to anyone else?

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