The Psychology of Process

Some writers set aside specific dollops of time a day to create – 2 hours, 15 minutes, 4 am until the dog begs to be let out – and after awhile, their bones and heart and mind get accustomed to the program and worlds are built. Other writers, those with lives that need living, pencil in an appointment with their couch and at said time, start living their characters’ lives for several hours in a row. They’re in the zone. Roald Dahl would get ideas and then write reminders to himself – on receipts, in a small notebook, or once, in the dust on his windshield.

I am not these people.

The last time I wrote was April 7, 2010. My skinny finger bones weren’t used to typing. My heart wasn’t used to beating for someone besides myself. My writing life had gotten to the point where I felt like scheduling time to write or obeying people’s directives to use my degree and “write!” was actually forced creativity. I eventually got to the point where I wouldn’t try anymore  because if I didn’t finish a chapter, do the two pages a day religiously, I was not “a writer.” Just a mere pretender wannabe.

But today I took twenty minutes instead of folding laundry and tried. I let my fingers reach for whatever keys they wanted. I had no plan. No direction. Initially, I thought I would introduce a new character who would be the saving grace for my heroine. Actually, my fingers think he’s a tool. In the two page-scene I constructed, I learned a new thing about my character. It even refers back to other moments of voice earlier in the manuscript.

Maybe that’s what I needed. A new way to think about the process. I do not write. And then fail. I try. And then succeed.


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