Grab your cup of tea, coffee or 'other' refreshment', sit back and take a read.
When B first asked me to blog about my writing process I was shy about sharing. Writing is such an intimate and private affair. No one had inquired about my process before. You only hear about a writer’s method once they’ve received a check and thus earned the title author. I may not have a contract yet but I do have a set of writing rituals that include, setting time, a designated space, and outlining. All of these things allow me to get lost in the world I create.
The idea for the novel had been in my head for years but not a word made it to print. To make it happen, I knew I had to set a deadline. I signed up for an Extreme Novel writing course at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda. I signed a contract agreeing to write a novel in 8 weeks. For at least 90 minutes per day, 5 days a week I was committed to working on my book. Each Monday night we’d come together and share the good and bad about our journey. The writing advice was great but the best thing for me was the accountability factor. Knowing I had to check in with others about my progress was motivating. Not everyone is willing to plop down $270 to have others shame them into writing but having someone check you from time to time aides in production. I needed a strong support group and the leader of that team started with me.
I set my deadline and writing hours. People could not reach me between the hours or 9:00am and 1:00pm I was unavailable. That’s my designated writing time. There are few exceptions but I do not answer my phone or do lunch between those hours Monday through Friday.
I secure my writing space. There are certain rules that my beautiful husband and 7 year-old son understand. If I am in my writing room, you are not. If I am not in my writing room, you are not. That is sacred space designated for one purpose and that’s to write. I don’t go in there if I am not writing. I won’t even edit in that space. It’s that serious. I compose detailed outlines there and talk out loud to my characters. I talk to them using their inflections, accents and attitudes. This helps me create dialogue. I speak the way they do out loud so the words on the page will do the same for the reader.
Most importantly I allow the words to flow. Picking them apart is a far more painful process and comes later. I don’t worry about grammar I just let the words spew and keep in mind that I’ll clean up later. All inhibitions leave and I just express raw thoughts. Having an outline sounds rigid and stifling to some but knowing where I’m going gives me the freedom to have fun creating along the way.