Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not every lady wears Chanel No. 5

I talk about my writing process a lot here. Part of this is because I'm pretty new at playing the role of Serious Writer (tm) and blogging about what is or isn't working for me is a way for me to process through why my writing process is what it is. But it's also because I find reading about people's creative processes interesting, and useful and I figure if I share my own personal insanities and quirks maybe it will be useful to someone else (if only for the reaction of, "I would never do that.)

The thing is, a creative process is an individual one, and mimicking the writing process of your favorite author does not mean that you will suddenly be able to write like her. And, quite often, what works for other people does not work for you. The most important thing about writing is finding what your process is, not driving yourself bats by searching for some magical combination of process fetishes.

I like to read about other writers who handwrite, because it makes me feel a kinship. (I may be the only person who cares what color ink the story is written in, but I'm willing to be unique in my madness.) While I never want anyone to be blocked on a project, it's a little comforting to find that I'm not the only one who sometimes wants to light her manuscript on fire, or forgets to put the plot in the middle, or cleans her house in the wee small hours of the morning as an offering to the gods of What Happens Next. I understand that some of you may find my need to write with music on an abomination unto the Lord, but that's fine. I think that writing in a coffee shop is what you do in Purgatory so you're not sent to the Hell where you're made to write on a computer.

And the thing about process is, it's designed to get you to the end goal of words on a page. Which means that you have to be willing to change things if those words stop flowing, or if your life changes. For the past two years that I've been writing seriously, I've been able to work at home, and my only accountability has been to deadlines. So if I wanted to get up, and believe six impossible things before breakfast, and spend the rest of the day watching Buffy on DVD, I could. Likewise, if it was dinner, and my characters hadn't shown up to work that day, and my plot had taken a frolic and detour, and the setting had been condemned by the building inspector, it meant being a big girl, and canceling plans for drinks because I had work to do that night. Starting this fall, I'll be teaching at a university again, and I'll have places to be at a regular time, and responsibilities that won't be writing related. So I'll have to change how I work in order to keep working. I may even learn to take my notebook to a coffee shop.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of you writing in particular colors... It's so much more elegant than my method of whatever happens to be in the pen (or my affection for purloined hotel ballpoints).