One of the most frustrating things I’ve discovered about my own writing process is that I don’t have one.
Okay, let me explain that a little more thoroughly. I HAVE discovered my own personal writing practice for poetry that stems directly from my personal philosophy about what poetry should be. So while revision of my poems requires quiet and concentration, the initial pulse of energy comes from life, wherever I’m at–right then. To be able to take advantage of that, I notice that there are times when my ‘poetic’ vision is strong, and in those moments I can be extremely prolific. I always carry around a little notebook in my purse–and even once, scribbled line after line on bar napkins I swiped from the impatient waitress. While that poem needs revision, the title, “The Bar Tab Chronicles” sounds promising.
Fiction is a whole other place, and ironically, the area where I’ve received the most ‘formal’ training. Unfortunately, despite the wealth of suggestions out there on process, I have tried many and find none that seem to ‘fit’ comfortably. When I was in school and had the luxury of keeping my own night-owl hours, I wrote continuously, fully immersed. Many first drafts of 5,000-7,000 word stories were completed in one long session. I would also chain-smoke, burning black spots into my keyboard.
That process prepared me zilch for writing in the real world. Writer H.B. Berlow does an excellent job of explaining this crash of the FANTASY of what a writer does (or wishes we were doing), versus the reality of simply living, working, shopping, and cleaning. You can read his idea of the merging of The Complete writer this month on the KWA blog here. Even as I tackle my own dream of completing a first draft (completely) of a LONG work, I find myself struggling to identify exactly how this will be done for me–I am essentially trying to discover how I will blend these two aspects. I have a strong feeling I will wrestle with this one for some time.
Will I write in spurts, turning off my internal editor? (and how DOES one do that exactly??)
Will I schedule chunks of days, so that I can immerse myself in the novel? (only this time I’m pregnant, have a 4-year-old, bills and responsibilities, a husband that might like to see me, and let’s not forget that I actually quit smoking 5 years ago)
Will I simply rewrite and revise the first 5,000 words over and over? (so I’ve already ruled this one OUT as completely unproductive and unsatisfying at this time)
Today, I added new material and revised old material. I’m pleased.
word count: 4,180