Process: noun. A continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.
This is something that I’ve bee thinking about a lot lately. Like a lot. Which, for me to be thinking about something a lot pretty much means that I’ve been thinking about it like 150% of the time. Which is impossible. Which proves my point. Anyway, so I’ve been thinking about processes, different processes, about the process of having a process. About the different processes that we all have and don’t know it. But more specifically, I’ve been thinking about my own writing process. And even more specifically than that, the process I go through to write a novel.
The reason this has been on my mind so much lately is because it has been a long time since I finished my last novel. And though I have begun several, I haven’t been able to stick to any of them. I want to eventually finish all of them, but part of my writing process isn’t necessarily finding a story to write. It’s about finding the right story to write. Which brings me back to the fact that as of this moment, I am an author with an full library of begun stories and nothing on top of my desk. But, contrary to what that just sounded like, this post isn’t really to complain about that. Because, like I said, I’ve been thinking more about my usual process than the fact that I don’t have a plethora of reasons to use it.
My process usually begins with one phrase. Just one is all it ever takes. I’ll hear one phrase and sometimes the next part happens right away or sometimes it takes a few days, but from that phrase grows an entire story. Two or three words start on a blank sheet of paper in my mind, and then all of the sudden they turn into a sentence and then they start multiplying until I think I’ll go absolutely crazy with sensory overload. And once my brain is finished doing this to itself, it starts to settle down and sift. It sifts through all of that and picks it apart, taking out what won’t work and keeping what will. Once I’ve got an outline charted up in there, my brain starts working on the holes. Usually by now I’ve already begun the book, I’m probably quite a few chapters in. And once I’m connected to the characters and more in tune with the story it’s easier to fill in the holes. The best part? I usually don’t know the details of the book’s high point or ending until I get there. Actually, that’s only true for the high point. I usually have no idea in the world what the ending will be like until I realize, oh! This is the end!
And there you have my process. Even though it all takes place in my brain, it still happens just like this. But the whole reason I’ve been questioning this process is because it’s been so long since I’ve used it on such a grand scale. I mean, I use it in mini form whenever I write these posts (which, true to form I never, ever, ever know the ending of). I suppose I’ve just been wondering what would happen if I were to mix things up a bit and actually plan things out better. You see, I know when I’m struggling with my writing if I have to actually write out an outline. I generally never ever write an outline. I know the main points of the story and I eventually get there, but generally I just sit down and put logic away for a minute and see where my writing takes me that day. But maybe if I were to actually plan things out in advance I’d get out of this strange rut I find myself in. I can’t even call it writer’s block because I have like eight or nine books on my laptop with anywhere from one page to a chapter written. All of them are great ideas, all of them I want to finish someday. But none of them are the one that I feel I need to write at this moment.
And so, I relate to you the giant paradox I find myself living in. The thing is, I don’t know that there’s a way to fix it. I think it’ll just have to naturally end itself. But, good grief, knowing me, that could be forever.