Processing your unique process
Posted by Kate Parker Apr 21 2017, 12:57 am
One of the parts of writing that I found the most difficult was understanding my process. There were plenty of people around who were glad to tell me how to write my stories. Outline, story board, character questionaires, exploratory chapters, the list goes on and on. Those are all good methods, but they didn’t help me understand what was going on in my brain. They didn’t help when I hit panic mode.
I wrote over twenty full length novels before I figured out panic is part of my process.
I want to quit every time I hit the panic phase. This comes on at about the fifth draft and I have 50,000 words in what feels like should be at least a 70,000 word story. I know I’m missing something big, and I can’t see it. Panic!!!!! That’s why part of my process is calling in the troops. I whine and plead with my critiquers to read this mess and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. One will give me a couple of pages of explanations and suggestions on the chapter or two that is the failure point in the story. The other will just tell me “This is where my head exploded.” Both responses are very helpful. And while one reads for plot, the other reads for character.
Part of my process is getting the needed jolt at that point in my writing that gets me to the full, fleshed out story.
I had always ignored photoboards with pictures of my characters and lists that told me what my characters ate for breakfast and who their first pet was. I thought it was because I write historical and this would only work for contemporary. Not at all. It was because of my process, which allows me to see my characters, sometimes through a veil and sometimes through a prism. But those images are so strong that everything else is a poor replica. The skill I needed, and still need to hone, is to describe those people and places in my head so well that readers can visualize them without pictures. This is part of my process.
These experiences convinced me that process is individual. Every writer, from initial idea to finished product, gets there a different way. We can give each other hints. Try this. Change that. Don’t give up.
Especially don’t give up.
So if you need to story board or write 80 page outlines or fly off into the mist every time you sit down at the keyboard, embrace it. It’s your process. We all handle our ideas, our images, the characters in our heads differently. It’s our unique process. And once you process what your process is, writing will go more smoothly for you and you’ll be able to enjoy the journey more.
Don’t get me wrong. It will always be an uphill climb. But you’ll be able to find your own personal path up the mountain once you process – or understand – what your unique process is.