This is how we do it…take two!

Time for the second week of Corrine Jackson’s writing process series on how writers do it. Today’s topic? Getting Into the Zone: What goes into the creative process of writing a novel? (i.e. Author’s mindset, the writer’s environment, etc.)

Lots and lots of junk food…whoa, what? Who said that? Actually, I don’t know if I’ve upped my junk food intake so much as I’ve maxed out on caffeine—one of the hazards of writing at Starbucks/Boudin.

Yeah, I’m one of those weird writers who doesn’t get much writing done at home unless it’s late at night. (read: kidlets are all locked up straight-jacketed asleep in their beds, and dogs are valiumed dozing on the couch). During the day, the house just distracts me. There’s always so much that needs to be done around here—and unless I want my MC seething with guilt over three-week-old dirty clothes piles or toilets that could be breeding the next super-bug, I tend to vamoose.

And then of course, if I sit all day at a coffee shop, it would be wrong not to buy drinks. Wrong, I tell you! Hence the caffeine.

caffeine yum

caffeine yum

Weirdly enough, I typically can’t listen to music when I write, but I can tune out conversations, background music, etc. I think I *love* my music sooooo much, that all I want to do when I hear it is sing along. I do brainstorm up a bunch of new scenes while I listen to my iPod and run, though. And I just totally digressed there, didn’t I?

Let’s see. So far, we’ve got caffeine and Starbucks. What else goes into the creative process for me? Tons and tons of desire. I mean, there are so many distractions and other things begging to be done, you’ve really got to have that fire. For me, I have to want, no, NEED, to get my story down on paper in order to make time to do it. And the best way to make that happen is to both a) start writing the darn thing and see what comes (which sounds slightly contradictory to what I just said but trust me, it makes sense) and b) think about my story/characters A LOT.

What doesn’t go into my creative process? Outlining. I’m a total pantser. One who is trying to reform but will probably fail miserably, given how I repel all things organizationally-related.

James Scott Bell doesn’t really talk about the creative mindset so much in Plot and Structure, but he does suggest ways to brainstorm Shiny New Ideas. Examples include:

- making up a cool title and then dreaming up a story to go with it

-list mental pictures from your past and come up with little stories to describe them

-listen to music and come up with a story for the song

- scour the obituaries and recreate an original character from the biographies (As Cordelia might say–morbid much?)

-write an opening line and go from there

-mind-mapping (Something to do with writing down a word/concept that intrigues you, then doing free association to come up with a bunch of words/ideas to go with it. Honestly, it kinda scares me.)

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there’s a small section in the book on how NOT to get ideas:

Drugs, alcohol and stress

Drugs and writing = badness...unless youre Stephen King

Drugs and writing = badness...unless you're Stephen King

I know, I know—what a major killjoy! But note the conspicuous absence of caffeine from that list. Which obviously means it’s okay to tank up (hey, I had to tie this post together somehow!)

So, that’s my creative process in a nutshell—caffeine, somewhere that’s not home, and desire. What’s your creative process like?

And don’t forget to go back and check out Corrine Jackson’s post, along with all the other YA writers who participated!

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11 Responses to “Getting into the Writing Zone…Take Two of the Writing Process Series”

  1. Kate Says:

    I feel like I failed in a major way, since half of King’s book is about beating alcoholism and I didn’t even mention that. Dur.

  2. Cory Says:

    Ditto on the Starbucks. We are a huge cliche, and I intend to own it proudly. And I didn’t know about King’s alcoholism. I’m going to have to pick up On Writing.

  3. JennW Says:

    Haha. This was a fantastic post. You are so funny. And I do most of those, except I write at home, but at night after kiddies are asleep. But coffee, God yes and desire is top of the list. I have to NEED to write it. Like I’m hopping around waiting for that moment when I can sit down and write and write and write and – woot! Best feeling EVER!:) Great post! (Guess who already had too much coffee!!! YUP, that would be me!

  4. Karla Nellenbach Says:

    hahah! your posts always make me LOL! I’m with you on almost everything…well, I am an outline…like I live for outlines. But other than that, a big fat YES! especially to coffee at Starbucks. I think it’s an unspoken rule that writers are to be patrons of the Iced Carmel Lattes…just saying

  5. cindy Says:

    i am exactly like you, i like the background
    noise and bustle of a cafe. but no music w words
    cause i sing along. i did start listening to
    classical music while writing sequel tho!

  6. Jamie Says:

    Ditto on the NEED part. Getting it all out is something for ME. Something that is selfish and not demanded by kids or work or anyone/anything else.

  7. LilliCray Says:

    Ah… the wit. I envy people with wit. I’m totally wit-free…

    I do some of my better writing away from home. Mostly because my computer has too many distractions. Like… well… Solitaire. And Minesweeper. And music. I love to sing, so listening to most music while I write can be detrimental. I’ve discovered I can hum along to a song I’ve only listened to for thirty seconds. That’s a problem.

    I think I’m one of the lucky ones who NEEDS to write a whole heck of a lot. Like, 24/7. I’m just a masochist who avoids it because she’s afraid of that dreaded thing: COMMITMENT.

    Again, the wit is great. Keep the wit. The wit is good. The wit is nice. Veeery niiiice…

    I hope I’m not scaring people. I’m not crazy, honest! Just a little slap-happy…

    HYPHEN! Haa….

  8. Jennifer (Herb) Says:

    Mind-mapping is really cool but I’ve never used it for my writing. I have a pretty journal I use to outline and brainstorm.

  9. Leila Says:

    Oh, I can relate. Nothing distracts me like being in a peaceful empty house. Busy cafes are much better.

    I like the idea of coming up with stories to go with songs.

  10. Laura (Common) Says:

    I may have to try this cafe idea since it seems to be so popular. Although, the pubs here have wireless internet (which is probably bad thing, come to think of it) and sometimes have plugs. Maybe I could switch between cofee and a good cider to write! Then I could try reading the nonsense I wrote when I come off the cider. :D

  11. LM Preston Says:

    I’m a coffee adict also. I love to write when my kids are around, the tv is on, and my coffee is near. I see now that I’m not alone.

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