Writing Process for Slobs

Cross posted over at the Liars Club site…

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 I 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.

I don’t know…is it just me?  Is everyone else out there working with a tidy desk and neatly sharpened number 2 pencils and a lovely pot of coffee at their elbow?  What’s your writing process?  Share it here with a comment!

9 thoughts on “Writing Process for Slobs

  1. No, it’s not just you. In the two weeks I spent trying to revise one of my drafts, I stopped making the bed, brushing my hair and god knows what I ate because I don’t remember. I wish I could be tidy, maybe next time 🙂

  2. Hi, so I’m so unorganized that my friend is holding on to my notebooks for me. Just in case, so they don’t get lost like several of my other notebooks with ideas and oh, I don’t know the ending of my current novel that walked away over 2 years ago. She asked if I could keep the next novel down to maybe 4 or 5 notebooks instead of the 10-12 notebooks that I have for my current novel I just finished. Seems only the first 220 handwritten pages are in sequential order in notebooks 1-3. Everything else, a scene here in one notebook with another idea for 5 more novels, or just any notebook I had lying around when inspiration came to me. I so wish I was organized. Or, better yet, if I could find all my writing. Maybe when I make it big, I can hire 2 assistants to help keep me organized. I mean really big, so I can afford the help. Anyway…77,000 words later I do have a finished novel. So I must be doing something right.

      • Oh, if we really want to dream BIG. I’d love to have assistants to help with typing and editing, a house keeper to cook and several maids to help keep my house clean. Oh to dream. But, I also want a library in my house that Dean Kontz has that – he has a library that has book shelves with every single book ever published under his name including every foreign language… Now that is a reality that I want…

  3. I see-saw. One week I am Jessica tucking pages into leather binders and the next week I am writing out of sequence scenes in various notebooks and in different files on the computer. I love making schedules and then don’t ever follow them.

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