Friday, 19 August 2016

Writing Process

Writing Process. 

Everyone has one.
Some writers are fantastically organized, with meticulous plotting, spreadsheets galore, a fabulous title, months of research at their fingertips. Plonk them in a seat and they can emerge six hours later with five thousand quality words.

Others are ‘pants-ers’, going with the flow, waiting for those moments of inspiration to hit, happy to see the different pieces fit together, like a quilt sewn of patches.

Others of us are a mix, finding benefit from structure (or at least an idea of what the end might look like!), whilst seeing the positives of keeping things a little ‘loose’ as our characters come to life and beg to say something other than what was planned.

I’ve written eight novels now, and find my writing process varies. Some projects have been amazingly straightforward (strangely enough, these tend to be NaNoWriMo projects). Other stories have proved amazingly coy, resulting in twiddling of thumbs amidst mild panic.

The story that wrote fastest (and I think was one of the best!) was a NaNo project, written only a few weeks after I’d finished the main character’s sister’s story. This meant I had a great grasp on storyworld, and together with a few weeks dreaming and planning (‘stewing’ I like to call it), meant I had both a basic chapter outline and whole scenes ready to roll when the time came to ‘piece’ it into my story. I could write fast, leaving asterisks for the tricky research questions I hadn’t been able to learn prior to commencing, like whether vermilion really was a colour accessible to the average amateur artist in 1819 England. (Yes, is the answer, though it was both toxic and expensive!) 

I recently started another project, typing up my first chapter from a burst of scribbled inspiration, typing with a smile as I'm thinking how fun it is to begin something new, with all the possibilities ahead. I enjoy the start. Most of the time I enjoy writing the middle, even if it feels like I'm slapping words out I just know will need editing later. There's something exciting about seeing strands of storyline weave together, sometimes in surprising ways, resulting in prayers of thankfulness as it seems the story has been shaped by a hand far greater than mine. I even enjoy mining those wells of emotion, tears trickling down my cheeks as I draw on experiences of pain or loss, seeing true things transformed to a greater truth. Writing as catharsis. Writing that heals. Writing that offers hope.

When I think about my writing process, I realise I usually enjoy the editing, too: tweaking words, culling repetitions, going for a(nother) cup of tea as I mull over phrasing, often aloud, which make me very glad when I've got the house to myself! And then there's rereading, where sometimes I'm taken by surprise by what I've written, and I'm brought to tears - in a good way! Moments of gold in the sometimes painful journey of bringing what once were vague stirrings of an idea into something tangible and real.

Over to you. What’s your writing process? What's your favourite part about writing? 



Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novel 'The Elusive Miss Ellison' will be published in the US by Kregel in February 2017. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Connect with her:    www.carolynmiller.org    
                                 http://www.pinterest.com/camillering

                                 https://www.facebook.com/carolynmiller 


  

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post Carolyn - I've also s love Nano. I'm a 'tweener mostly though I usually mull over my stories and make some notes before starting.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Jeanette. Any plans for NaNo this year? I'm interested, but it will depend on what's happening in editing land :)

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  2. Thanks, Carolyn. I'm a 'tweener or a plotser, whatever you want to call it. I need to fool my brain in thinking I have a roadmap or I'm too scared to write. But I also need the freedom to change my ideas as I go :D

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    1. HI Sue - thanks for commenting. Feeling that sense of freedom to change is essential for the creative process, isn't it?

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  3. Really enjoyed reading and relating to so many things in your post, Carolyn--thank you! Your words 'Writing as catharsis. Writing that heals. Writing that offers hope' particularly resonated with me. I can well remember crying as I wrote parts of my last novel and realising this was a good thing on so many levels.

    Re my writing process, I am more of a plotter when writing my non-fiction, but more of a panster when I write novels. The favourite part of novel writing for me are those lovely surprises that happen along the way and seem to come from somewhere beyond me, as you have described. And the favourite part of writing non-fiction for me is when I get to the final editing stage (as I am now) and think to myself as I read, 'Yes, I really believe I am saying something worthwhile here. Lord, please use it to bless someone out there!'


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    1. Thanks so much, Jo-Anne. It's funny isn't it, when you look back on things you've written and realise it was a cathartic experience. And yes, thank you God for the lovely surprises - writing that shows He is in control, and we're His instruments :)

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  4. Hi Carolyn,
    Like you, I've trained myself to enjoy the editing process for its own sake. I like to stop every chapter or so to give it a rough edit, just so that I don't have a Herculean task at the end, before I even offer it to an editor.

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    1. HI Paula. I often find it difficult to stop editing! I guess when you love a story and 'know' what it should look (read) like, it's a challenge to reserve the tweaking to a later time. Then there are those moments of inspiration that hit in the middle of the night that just have to be added... :)

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  5. I'm relieved to discover other people are brought to tears by what they write ... I was beginning to think I was a little odd.

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    1. Ha ha Susan! (I think it's a good thing, anyway!) Hopefully it means others will be moved also - in a good way :)

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    2. Yes, I hope it means others will be moved too.

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