I saw some of Stephenie Meyer's interview with Oprah the other day, and she made some statements about her writing that I found interesting.
When asked about possible sequels to the Twilight Series, or whether or not she would ever finish Midnight Sun, she responded, each time, by saying that, in order to write something, she needs to feel "alone" with it, as though no one else will ever read it, as if it will never be published.
I'm not going to criticize her process, though I will point out it seems self-defeating, but I'm not the one who is an international phenomenon, so I guess she's onto something.
It got me thinking, though, about my own process. My participation this month in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month: 50,000 words in 30 days) has brought me into online contact with many amateur writers like myself. A a result, I am gaining awareness of my own process.
1. I do not plan anything. When I begin something, I have a vague main character, some very nebulous secondary characters, and some idea of what the central conflict or theme will be. That's it. I start it and go from there.
I don't outline, or do character sketches, or research anything in advance. I often actively avoid plots requiring me to do so; my awful NaNoWriMo novel (really, it's terrible) required me to craft a 6-generation genealogy that I constantly had to refer back to. (Why did I give that one character 10 daughters? Why?) The few times I have tried to plan, my characters quite unreasonably decided that wouldn't work and took off on their own anyway, meaning I had just wasted a couple of days on work that would be wasted.
The pro? It makes writing really just pure fun. As I'm writing, I have no idea what's going to happen next, either. The con? It makes it really hard to find a good ending. If you don't know from the beginning where the story will end, it can be hard to recognize an ending if you find it.
2. I tend to edit as I go. This is a terrible thing. Part of the reason I did NaNoWriMo was that the whole point is to just write like blazes, as quickly as you can, then go back and edit it later. I did it, but now I'm finished halfway through the month. Maybe I can do another one?
Anyway, when I was writing my vampire novel, I got stuck editing, re-writing, and re-imagining the first 20,000 words or so. I probably stalled out there for months. Then, when I finally moved on, I was somewhat obsessive about going back and making sure everything was working. Editing, by its very nature, isn't the creative exercise writing is, so it really puts the brakes on my imagination.
NaNoWriMo has really gotten me focused on writing, but even then I was jumping back and forth.
I've already begun a new one, that will not, to my current knowledge, be supernatural in any way. I've also got ideas for prequels and sequels to the vampire one, and I think this NaNoWriMo can be saved if I re-work it a bit, expand some of the plot.
If anyone knows of an extremely rich, possibly insane person who would like to sponsor an amateur writer so she can quit her job and write full-time with no guarantee of ever being published, I know you'll let me know.