My boyfriend has a blog as well. On his, he writes about writing. I love talking with him about writing. He has a really creative way of explaining things. He has taught me so much.
We’re a lot alike in some ways. We both blog, we both are writing novels and trying to turn it into a career. In fact, at this moment he is sitting across the table from me, working on his book.
I mention this because the other day he was trying to construct a blog about where ideas come from. And through our discussion, I consciously realized how different out processes are.
So, what is a “process”? It’s a word that is well used in the creative community. I can’t define it for everyone, only for myself. And for me, a process is my how.
Yes, I’m writing in a cafe. (Or trying to. I’ve spent over an hour just trying to get my computer to start up. And then it restarted on me. Save often! I need a new computer) I don’t write in public so people can see my writing. Honestly, I usually put in my headphones and block out the world. For some reason, my iheart Hot Chelle Rae station does it for me. Perhaps it’s because the music is lively but simple. Distracts me just enough. Also, I think that cues are important for focus. If I leave the house to write, then I know that’s what I’ll be doing. If there’s endless coffee, tea, and maybe a snack, all the better. If I listen to similar music when I write, then my brain realizes that it’s time to get to work. Those cues get me into my zone.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t listen to music while writing. He writes, drinks his coffee, surfs the internet probably a little too much. I power through the whole time, he takes breaks. I can sit down and knock out two to three thousand words in a sitting, sometimes he struggles to do more than a few hundred. That doesn’t necessarily mean that my way is better. While I have speed, he has real depth. His writing leaps from the page, is so rich and well constructed that it normally makes me feel like amateur hour. My way is good too, though. They say that you should get your first draft down quick as you can. In my case, I did the first draft in about 6 weeks. The artistry really is in the revisions. For me, revisions take longer than creating content from scratch, but I can still knock out a couple thousand words revised, rewritten, re-whatever is needed, in a session. I think it all evens out in the end. I get it done fast, but it takes a couple extra whacks. He gets it down slower, but it’ll probably take less work to polish up later.
He had a very difficult time brainstorming his upcoming blog post about where ideas come from. I think they come from all over the place. Dreams, other things you’ve seen, life experiences, or even a perfect meshing of puzzle pieces, constructed from a variety of places. For example, I saw on The Daily Show a segment on Google building floating fortresses and focusing their research eternal youth. Then, I saw an article that Amazon was building a fleet of unmanned aircraft. Both of these things sound promising, but my mind leapt to: I saw World War Three, the Consumer Wars. Will I write a story about this? I’m not sure.
Adam says that it is important to hold onto these ideas. That they you should store them away in a bank and mush them together whenever possible. We did some exercises to that effect, and let me tell you, we did come up with some interesting concepts. Like one thing we put together was an artificially intelligent being that doesn’t know it and just thinks they are psychic/going insane, and is either being helped or hunted by a renegade cop. I think that is a great way to make unique stories. But it’s not how I do it.
I normally construct a universe, have an idea of what it’s like, what’s going to happen, and then the characters come. I’m not really one to have a grab bag of characters, I develop them specifically for the situation that they’re in. And if, in a final draft, a character didn’t make the cut, then they’re probably not worth plugging in somewhere else. And they probably wouldn’t fit.
I do compile a lot of ideas, but they come nearly fully formed. When I get an idea for a story, I develop it right away. I do thought bubbles, I do outlines. I can outline a novel in a matter of hours, from conception to let’s write this thing. He doesn’t outline. I used to not outline. I almost felt like it was cheating. I also enjoyed not knowing where my story was going. The mystery made it exciting, as if I were reading it instead of producing it. But then, I would paint myself into a corner. I would get lost along the way. Or maybe I’d know A and Z, but be missing the rest of the alphabet. It would also come up short, word count wise. Very short. Some people, like my bf, use their first drafts as their outlines. I like to know where I’m going. Things are so much easier with an outline. I think it’s part of why I write quickly. Knowing where I’m going leaves my mind free to visualize the whole scene. I don’t outline my flash fictions, since they’re so short, but I generally have a beginning, middle, end in mind at conception.
I’m sure there are many more ways or “processes” that people have, and tons of other examples of how mine and my boyfriends differ. Do what works for you. Be it outlining or going in blind. Saving all your idea nuggets until you have a twenty-piece meal, or binging your whole story at once. There’s no right or wrong, only effectiveness.