Thought I’d talk a little today about the creative process – or rather, my own process because I imagine that everyone’s is different.
And there’s that word: imagine. Imagination, if you will. Writers seem to often be cursed with too much imagination. The constant “what ifs” of daily life can really wear you down, especially if it gets out of hand. Then, I suppose, you’re off to your friendly local shrink for a new Xanax prescription!
I’m not going to get on a soapbox, but having an active imagination doesn’t make you a writer – you also have to know/learn how to write. How to temper your dialogue to fit the conversation, how to pace the action, how to write love scenes without dying in agonies of embarrassment. Oh, and that last bit is exactly why I don’t write romance….
People joke about those “voices” in their heads, but it’s true – writers hear things. Don’t get me wrong, if your characters truly ARE arguing with each other in your mind, and ignoring you as a popular meme recently stated, you might have a problem. Seek help.
However, if your characters merely come to life inside your skull, and you can channel their personalities in order to write a more effective scene, that is imagination. And you need it, or your book will fall flat. For example, when you read a book, do you take on – temporarily – a habit or mannerism or way of speech of one of the characters? That’s imagination. That’s why people read. Well, that’s why I read. I’ve seen some pretty awful stuff that other people read and frankly, I just don’t get it. But it’s a personal choice, and heaven forbid if I discourage anyone from reading!
Now for the “process” part. You don’t just imagine a world, peopled by imaginary characters, and type them out into a readable form. I wish! It would make writing this next book so much easier! Why, I could knock out an 80K novel in, oh, about ten days – that’s spending just eight hours a day writing, like a full-time job. That could be – wait a minute – 26 books a year, assuming I didn’t take a vacation. Which I don’t. But hey, wouldn’t that be swell?
Here’s how it really works:
Thinkthinkthink. Typetypetypetypetypetype. Thinkthink. Backspacebackspace times 14. Think. Type…………typethink…….thinktype…..backspace times 10. Thinkthinkthink. Typetypetypetype.
Of course, I’m not counting the ringing of the phone, the ding of new email, the cute kitty pics and vids you MUST watch. Or the moaning and lamenting you do on Facebook, your page and those of all your writer friends. Or the kids. Or errands. Or housework. Or, you know, actually marketing and selling your book!
Pretty good summation, huh? Anyone? Is this how your day goes?
It is always good to know that others hear voices and sometimes temporarily assume the personality of imaginary characters.
And it’s good to know I’m the only one to publicly admit it!
Neither of you are alone. I have offered them a dictaphone to make my life easier. Unfortunately, I have not figured out precisely how to wire it.
Love it! And when you figure it out, I’ll be a beta tester! I just said something like to Dennis last night: I need to wire other people’s fingers to my brain, so they can type up all the junk in there….
Robin, this is a wonderful article! It could not be closer to the truth. Especially the voices and the backspacing By the way, the voices ARE the key to writing great dialogue–what would your character say, how would he/she respond. When this question is answered properly by listening to the cadence, the dialect…it turns out VERY good.
–> You got it right, that is exactly how the day goes.. ..Kudos, Robin, I love this article! … GREAT advice!
You know you’re really in the zone when people give you strange looks because it was one of your characters that just spoke and not you.