Thursday, November 18, 2021

Processing Process

I really enjoyed Tom’s post this week. The writing process interests me a great deal, and processing the process always leads me to more questions than answers.

I’m about three-fourths through my work-in-progress, and for the first time ever life has gotten in the way and significantly slowed my progress. I’m usually pretty good about compartmentalizing, but this fall, that’s not been the case.

It’s been a time of starts and stops, and, for me, that’s a killer. I need to write every day, to follow the thread consistently. I have tried to outline in the past –– and learned I don’t do it well. Or, rather, I don’t do it efficiently. (I can create an outline, but I never seem to follow it.) So, instead, I spend lots of time sketching characters –– who they are, what makes them do what they do –– enough to know how they’ll react in particular situations.

This fall, when traction has been hard to come by, writing to the end of the headlights has been more difficult than ever. I’ve had to go back and re-read the entire manuscript (53,000 words and counting) to know where to point the car. I’m at that stage again, having rediscovered my lane and pushing the pedal once more.

I’m a note-taker. I carry a notebook at all times. It’s a chance to outline as I go, to scribble questions my protagonist should be asking as he clutches the puzzle pieces, to sketch out possible endings. Notebooks get filled with ideas for titles, names, plots, lines of dialogue.

In the end, when I talk about the writing process, I have fewer insights than questions. As Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, it’s why I keep at it, pointing the car into the dark and seeing where it leads.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Thanks, John. I always enjoy peeking into other people's processes. It's a continual reminder that no one process is the "right" one.