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What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
 
Whohub


My creative process is a three step process. I need to have an idea, a concrete one, about the story I want to write. Then, I sit down and hash out the "big events". Once I have a timeline, a big event for each chapter or so, then I sit down and fill in the details and dialogue that go with each of those evens. Lastly, I bridge the gaps between events.

I do a lot of research on my stories before I sit down to write. Whatever universe I'm working in has to be perfect. If I have a story set in Ireland, I research what the area is like, what types of shops are there, what the roads look like... etc. I like to have a working knowledge of my universe. In fact, some of my stories are set in real places. Places I've known well or places I want to know well and am visiting vicariously through my research.
 


You know, sitting down to write has been and off and on thing for me. I get inspired out of the blue to work on a story or begin a story. Then I simply start to write until I am done. Only once has a real event put me in a situation to sit down and write about it, and make the feelings of the characters real and whole. Creatively, I have to feel the situation or the story. I have to see the story play out in my head and then detail it to paper. My process takes much longer than most I am sure. 


I get very vivid images in my mind. My characters literally do come to me and demand that I write their advertures down. They don't leave me alone until I do. I suppose that's my subconsious' method of getting me to dredge something up from my past in a "safe" way. I think finctionalizing puts a buffer between me and negative events that impacted my life and enhances the positive ones.

Once I sit down to write, there's a WHOLE lotta changes and evolution that goes on. I get something down, knowing that I will probably be rewriting and rewriting until the whole story sounds "true".

It's perfectly okay to do as much editing as necessary. I want my readers to the journey right alongside my characters. If the story doesn't take them along, there's no point in writing it. I give my first drafts to several people and let them test it out for me. They give suggestions, tell me what's missing, and I take them totally seriously.
 


The process is non-process; no gimicks or helpers to inspire other than strong coffee, a window and quiet. I might leave the room and attend to mundane chores for hours until I am bursting. Then I sit down and write. Other times, I sit down and words pour like a fountain. 


The creative process is such an amazing gift to me. Before I sit down to write, I have some coffee then I usually read something by someone I like very much. I'll read something by the poet Larry Kramer (BRILLIANT WINDOWS) or Lawrence Raab (THE PROBABLY WORLD) or anything by Robert Frost or Dorothy Barresi.
Then I begin. I still do first drafts in a notebook, sitting on my deck. When I'm ready to see it printed, I go to the computer.

I write almost every day from very early morning to early afternoon.
 


The process is an ongoing ever-changing process. There is a basic routine - waking up in the morning to a cup of coffee and time with my journal. But there are variations over time in what other things I do for inspiration - reading magazines, spending time making art collages, going for a walk. Ultimately, though, it ends up being about sitting down and doing the work. 


Somedays I will read a newspaper story that rings a bell in my head.
There are times when a past occurrence moves me to write. One thing I have learned is that the older you are the easier it is to pull from the past.
One major thing I have learned is do not push the muse.
If there is a plot twist that doesn't seem right, or a character that is not correct, give it time.
Mull over the possibilities and do not force the situation. How long should you wait? The solution could come in a minute, an hour, or a week. Do not force the answer. Just let your mind go and the solution will work itself out.
 


I am a firm believer that writing, and my other creative endeavors, require discipline not a ritual. So, with writing for example I have managed over the years to grow into the habit of writing something everyday, even if it has nothing to do with a current project, such as long-form formats from novels to a screenplay. My creative process is simply to sit down and write, if I am in the middle of a book and things are not flowing, I will write something else, poetry (something that simply "happens"; letters, I write critical essays on a variety of subjects from literature to philosophy and I journal every day no matter what.) Before I sit down to write, I might do any number of things, there is no "launching procedure" per se, I might be painting, playing guitar, reading, watching a movie or having a tuna sandwich... The thing that happens before I begin to write is much more about a state of mind, at times I call it inspiration, an internal mind or spirit nudge, a romantic notion or something painful; therefore the thing that happens just before I write is simply grabbing a pen and paper, or going to the computer and let the Muse do her thing... 


My creative process is like a faucet. I am able to use it whenever I need it and it never stops flowing. There are no rituals or real processes; perhaps a little planning, but I usually know what I am going to write before I write it. Peace of mind and solitude does help. 


It varies. For some stories I have files full of notes and bits of information I think might be interesting and add to the story. When I finally do begin the process of writing I sort through the material I have gathered. While much remains useful, much will be tossed out, or saved for something else. A lot of what I put together is strictly for inspiration. Often that includes sketches and drawings depicting characters or action. 


Mostly it revolves around collecting authentic information from various sources. I collect information in the form of statistics, detailed information and illustrations. I collate them before I sift through all the available body of information - eventually consolidating them into broad sections of ideas - flowing from one to the other. This is a time consuming process - but the time I spend on this activity is really worth every minute. 


The room is clean, music that "feels" like the character or scene is playing - sometimes through headphones, and often, my eyes are closed. If I don't pay attention to the page or see the letters fall on it, it's easier for me to write the scene as I see it in my head. 


This varies, but unless I can see a scene in my mind's eye, as clear as one of my own memories, I don't write it.

Right now I'm working on a project that's at its beginning stages. I can see and hear these characters - but it's like I'm watching them through a thick sheet, and I can only make out their shadows. Their voices are muffled. Every once and again, somebody speaks out loudly, and then I can hear all the words they're saying. It's like listening to people having a conversation in another room.

It's also worth noting that I always hear more than I see, especially at first. I've never been an especially visual writer - too much visual detail bores me, as a reader I'd rather fill it in myself. I don't like to be told too much about what a character looks like. So I don't try to tell that to the reader.
 


I usually daydream a lot. 


I don't know if you can call it a "process". I get an idea, and the story starts to write itself in my head. Then, when I get a chacne to sit down to write, I write it down. 



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