I read about how to write from time to time, and I recently learned about the Snowflake Method. I’m not going to link to it, so you can Google it if you want. I was not impressed with the website because the guy was hawking it HARD. I can get past that, though, because I know that’s part of writing these days. I skimmed through all the self-aggrandizement and hard sell bullshit to see what his actual advice was, and it would be fair to say I was skeptical from the start. I have a bias against named systems for most things, especially creative endeavors,
Putting that aside, I reached the part about him saying something like, “If you’re like most people, you dream about your novel long before you write it. You research it and–”
That’s where I tapped out because it just underscored how weird I am. I’ve seen a version of this given as advice or how that particular writer works many, many times. “I have an outline”, “I write down the names and how everyone is related to each other in beforehand”, etc. People talking about how they do all this research when they build a world is common as well.
I’m not disputing that this works for other people, obviously. In fact, it seems most writers have some sort of outline/plan/research thing they adhere to. I don’t. At all. I don’t think about a novel before I write about it. I have ideas come into my mind, and they are usually fairly fully hatched when they arrive. I write mysteries for the most part, so let me give you an example of my creative process. Note, I tend to write trilogy, so this is what happens when I’m starting a new one.
I’m finishing up a novel, and I have an idea rattling around in my mind. For example, at one point, I wanted to write about abortion. Or rather, have abortion as a main driver in the story. I let that marinate in my brain for days as I finished whatever I was working on. Then, suddenly, I knew how abortion was going to be featured, how it would affect the arc of the story, and who was going to be murdered (the doctor who performed the abortion). I also knew that the anti-choice movement was going to be featured because of course they would be given the topic. I also knew the reason for the murder, although I wasn’t quite sure who the murderer would be. With that knowledge, I started writing.
Another example is a short story I wrote, which is still one of my favorite stories that I’ve written. I wanted to write about depression and the color red. I am inordinately proud of this story because it’s actually beautiful prose, which is not my style at all. I am not one for elaborate descriptions and an exquisite turn of phrase. I’m good at dialogue and building characters. The rest of it, eh, not so much. This short story, however, I paid more attention to my phrasing, and it was almost lyrical.
Back to how I actually write a novel. Using the abortion example again, I started the novel with what I had outlined above in my head. As I wrote, other ideas would come to me about how I wanted the story to go. Things that happened in the novel spurred more ideas in me. For instance, in creating a certain character early in the book, I suddenly knew how the rest of the novel was going to go. The bare bones of it, but it gave structure to the rest of the story.
I used to say that I wasn’t writing as much as I was being a conduit for the stories. I have come since to say that I am, indeed, actually writing, but I can’t take credit for a lot of what I write. The characters are their own. If I try to make them do things that they don’t want to do, the novel will suffer for it. They become flat on the paper rather than full-bodied characters, and I either trash the novel or delete the scene(s) that aren’t to the character or characters’ liking. This usually happens when I have a specific event I want to happen, and I’m trying to force the characters towards that event.
I rarely get writer’s block, and I can write a couple thousand words in a few hours. I’ve said before that NaNoWriMo is not an issue for me because I can knock out 50,000 words in a month no sweat. I do it now every month (60,000 because I write 2,000 words of fiction a day) without the fanfare or the excitement. In addition, I write at least three blog posts a week that range from a thousand words to three thousand words each.
I don’t talk about this when writers are bitching about squeezing out ten words in an hour, obviously, because it would be rude and obnoxious, but it’s also hard because i would like to commiserate with people who don’t have a problem with writing actual words but find other parts of the process frustrating. So many people focus on the actual writing, and it’s simply never been a problem for me.
I know there’s no one way to write, but it’s just another way in which I’m a weirdo. Any time I hear, “Most people _____,” I shut down because I know it’s not going to be me. Take the weather for example. It’s supposed to reach high sixties this week. Most everyone else is jubilant that spring is finally here. Me, I’m grumpy and groggy, and not dealing with the change well. I’m fine with thirties and forties which is where we are now, but I know once it hits sixties, I’m going to be a right bitch. It doesn’t help that everyone will be like, “Isn’t this weather fantastic?” Uh, no. It’s terrible. I’m fine up to sixty, and I can tolerate up to seventy (barely). After that, it’s all gross to me.
I’m tired. Physically and emotionally. It’s almost my birthday, which came as a surprise this year. Normally, I’m broody for weeks until my birthday, but this year, it seemed to go from February 1st to March 31st in a hot second. I did enjoy February for its record-breaking snowfall, but what the hell happened to March?
I used to hate my birthday and while I don’t hate it any longer, I don’t care for it, either. I have a fake birth date on FB, and it used to be funny when you *had* to have your birthday displayed. I would wake up some day in January to a wall of happy birthdays and wonder why the fuck–oh, right. Fake birthday. It reminds me of everything I haven’t done and how much I’ve wasted my life, so maybe I need to find a way to turn that around this year. Use it as a motivator rather than another way to castigate myself. I don’t know if I can, however, as I’m in the middle of a depressive phase. I have a week to figure it out.