“So, what’s your process?”

I looked at the man with a bit of surprise and no small amount of suspicion. What on God’s Green was he talking about? Was he commenting on my hair? That’s rude.

But perhaps it wasn’t, because there he was, all six foot of him, cotton ball hair and red Hawaiian print shirt included, waiting patiently for my answer. And then I got it. My process. My writing process. What. Was. It?

Now, the word “process” seems to me to apply more to science or hair than writing. But, upon reflection I realized that producing a piece of writing, whether novel, short story, song lyric or poem, is a process. Most writer’s have a method of some sort by which they hope to create a beginning, middle and end peopled with…well, I suppose that depends on the genre. The point is, we all have STEPS we take to get from start to finish and those steps, whatever they may be, comprise a process.  

My process is to think, and think, and think, then sit down and write. Then I think some more, usually while eating a brownie or folding laundry. Then I sit back down and write some more. And every time I sit down, I start with editing the last bit of what I wrote the last time I sat down.  The pitfall of this practice is that, if I’m not very careful, the book remains lodged between my ears, giving me a monster headache without ever making it to the page. So I have to make sure I sit down.

Other people plan out the entire story scene by scene, on post it notes or in tiny booklets, before they ever write a line. When the plan is done, they become recluses, emerging three months later, bearded and bent with a finished novel under their arm.  (This is especially entertaining if the author in question is female.)

Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way, suggests journaling for an hour or so every day as a way of jump starting your creative engine. It has worked exceedingly well for her but I lack the discipline to both write and journal.

Whatever your process, the only salient point is this: does it work for you? If it does, nothing else need be said. If it doesn’t, find a process that does. And happy writing.

Disclaimer: the man at the beginning of this story is not real. Any resemblance to a real writer is purely coincidental and unintentional. (Law firm of Shore, Shore and Reelly, esq.)

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