Burning Question: What’s your writing process?
Remember the beginning of that show Murder She Wrote where Angela Lansbury joyfully typed her mystery novel and then put it into a lovely leather binder? Didn’t it all look so cozy and neat and clever?
I wish had an orderly writing process. A set method that I could follow that would result in a full-length novel manuscript in a set amount of time. If I had such a thing, I could sit down on, say, Tuesday, and type away each day following said process (with that cheerful little Murder She Wrote theme music piping into my studio). I’d dress in scholarly tweed clothes, and casually nibble on fine chocolate pastries while I create. Then I’d happily type “the end” on the final page, and put it all in my own lovely embossed leather binder. Sigh.
But I’m a messy writer. There is no cheerful music (well, perhaps some Coldplay blasting now and then). I work odd hours. Did I brush my teeth? Did I brush my hair? Who cares? I’m writing, damn it.
It’s all quite disorganized. First I’m seized with a notion. Sometimes it’s a scrap of dialog between characters. Sometimes it’s a final scene that rips my heart out. Actually, I’m often seized. Kind of turns me loopy. I jot down this scrap or that scene and then tuck it away. If it keeps popping up in my mind, and if I continually add to this with more scenes, more dialog, side plots, then I know there’s something to this, and it’s time to really get writing.
I usually have a sense of where I’m going, a final destination to write toward, but I often have no clue exactly how I’m going to get there. I take false turns, I create scenes that never should have been created, and when I sense I’m off track, I recalculate the route, like a GPS. I’m crazed. I’m a mess. I’m having a wild and wonderful time.
Honestly, I’ve tried to be more organized. To outline, to do character sketches, to plot in advance, to brush my hair and wear tweed jackets with patches on the elbows…but somehow it all takes the fun out of the journey and I lose the will to create.
So, I simply wait to catch on fire with an idea, then run like hell toward the finish line. Painful. Dangerous. Sometimes unattractive. Not too civilized. But always very exciting.
Marie Lamba is happy to report that she DID brush her teeth today. She’s author of the young adult novel WHAT I MEANT… (Random House), and her articles appear in numerous publications including Garden Design, Writer’s Digest, and RWR – the national publication of Romance Writers of America.