esme1944 (esme1944) wrote in chroniclesofmew,

My Writing Process

Jake had the 363 students write about their writing processes this evening in the class so I thought that would be a good place to start here. This is a topic that I've written about and discussed a number of times. Like many things in my life, my writing process is neurotic in an eclectic sort of way. Depending on what I'm writing I write in different ways.

Most of the writing that I am doing as of late is creative writing. As a few of you know, I have been working on a fairy tale for some time. My process for this piece of writing is interesting to me, because it is the first piece of its nature that I've worked on before. (I do think there is a standard "long-term personal fiction" process, though.) I've spent literally years brainstorming the story. I have it pretty much all in my head. If you have a few hours, I could tell it to you. I like knowing these sorts of stories really well before writing them. I want to know everything about my characters. I make up families and stories about families. I like to think, "If this were being made into a movie, who would play..." and then cast it. It helps me with physical descriptions. The writing itself is non-linear. I have the story broken down into chapters, which are almost like smaller stories. This was a mental game for me. I was intimidated by the thought of writing a book, but if I'm just writing a series of short stories about the same characters then it's not so scary. This also lets me jump around to different parts of the story as I'm inspired to write about them. Most of my current brainstorming is done in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, or during general moments of boredom. I keep a notebook with me at all times, so that I can jot down ideas, write lists of names, draw pictures of landscapes, etc. I will plan and plan a piece of the story and then sit and blast it out in a notebook. There are always lots of scribbles and arrows on the paper. I constantly edit and revise while I'm writing. It never stops.

There are some general creative writing rules that also apply to spur of the moment writing. I like pads of paper and pens for creative writing (no pencils, no single sheets of paper). I prefer legal pad-style notebooks that flip over the top, bonus points if they're yellow (it's less intimidating). I tend to doodle and write song lyrics around the edges of my paper. It helps me think. I can write just about anywhere, at any time of day, but I have to be relatively stress-free. The entire time I was student teaching there was no creativity happening in my brain. If I'm writing creatively and it's not a big complicated story, then it's likely that I've thought of a sentence or an image that I want to start with. Once it's there, I need a context to put it in. A lot of my undeveloped creative writing are short (one or two paragraph) character sketches, or images of a person doing some small action.

I don't really write poetry, so I don't have a process for it. On occasion, I scribble indulgently about how I feel and then hope that no one ever sees it.

My formal writing is very very neurotic. (This is getting rather long, so I'll try to explain it quickly.) I throw fits, piss and moan for as long as I can before getting started. I have to waste something like 85% of my time complaining. At least. I do a bit of pre-planning on paper (maybe an outline), but quickly move to the computer. I plant myself and start making deals. Everything is accomplished through a tricky series of rewards. (I can have no tv, no music, no background talking while I work. I have no attention span.) Rewards are usually given at the end of paragraphs and they typically cycle something like this: snack, beverage, bathroom break, snack, so on. When it comes to scholastic writing, I am 100% externally motivated.
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