Helen suggested we talk about writing process this month. Or maybe our special places to write. Since…ahem…I don’t actually have a process, I opted for places to write. (Let me add here that if anyone knows of a good place for me to find a process, I'm all ears.)
My favorite is my desk in my office. When the college professor my son worked with retired, he gave Jock his desk. Since they were moving anyway and Jock didn’t have anywhere to put it, he asked if I’d store the big oak teacher’s desk. I said sure. For a while. And now I say he can have it when I die, because it’s not going anywhere until then. It sits by the windows in my office and I have an uninterrupted view of the fields and woods to the west. I’m a country girl—it doesn’t get better than that.
One time, years ago, I had edits to do—a horrifying number of them, as a matter of fact; I think I had to rewrite the book—and I was pretty much stuck. The longer I worried about it—and looked at the calendar because I didn’t have very long and the time was flying by—the more stuck I got. We were going away for the weekend and I ended up in the dining room in a Hampton Inn at something like four in the morning doing edits. I don’t remember where we were. I only know I worked there all morning, ignoring the filling-up and emptying-out of the room and drinking cup after cup of coffee. And being gloriously unstuck. So it has become a semi-tradition that when I have edits—especially if they’re heavy—the Flahertys end up in a motel or a state park lodge for a weekend.
Where’s your favorite place to work? Or, even better—in case I need to borrow it—your favorite way to get unstuck?
I wish I had a favorite place to write – maybe I’d be more organized and productive. My best location is anywhere I won’t be disturbed by the phone or my husband or the dog wanting to go out or come in. A big leather recliner in the family room works well for me except that my Maine Coon cat likes to participate in the process; try typing with a large bundle of fur in your lap. I’ve worked in hotel rooms, on ferries and in parking garages – I rarely leave the house without my beloved laptop.
As far as method, I’ve heard there are two kinds of writers: organized and organic. Since no one’s ever accused me of being organized, I guess I fall into the organic camp. I once attended a writers’ workshop where the presenter taped a long sheet of butcher’s paper to the wall. She had outlined every chapter, every scene, probably every paragraph. If that were the required method of writing, I’d be dishing up fast food orders instead. The extent of my organization is envisioning my main characters at the beginning of their adventure and following them to jot down how they proceed. I generally have some idea how the story will end, but sometimes not even that is set in stone. In The Bull Rider, my female lead uttered three words entirely without my planning or permission and the whole plot took off cross-country with me in hot pursuit. The resulting excursion greatly enriched the story. Being receptive to unimagined possibilities is my one best writing tool.
I can usually get unstuck with a little exercise – swimming or hiking or even just a quick turn around the patch of trees and brush stretching behind our woodpile. I got hopelessly bogged down recently over the POV in the book I just completed – who should be the lead in a key scene – when it occurred to me to have a third character recount the action after the fact. Problem solved.