My Writing Process
Yesterday, I got an email from my good friend Sue who said she was just passed the half-way point in my latest release The Treasures of Venice. Like any true friend, she told me how much she loved the story thus far and then she asked, “How do you do it? How do you come up with all these characters, the plot and all the details?”
My friend JoAnne had a similar reaction when she finished reading my debut release The Wild Sight. Her first question was, “How did you come up with all those words?”
When Kristi very generously asked me to do a guest blog here on Books and Needlepoint, it occurred to me that more than just my two friends might like to know some answers to the ‘how,’ ‘what,’ and ‘why,’ of my writing process. So I’ll attempt to answer those and a few other questions. For me, writing is a lot like any other skill (like tennis or knitting), the more I do it, the more I want to do it and the better I get at doing it.
I am NOT a morning person. My optimal writing time is between 1 and 6 PM so that is when I write. Okay, I also like to go out to lunch with friends, so I often don’t get started until 1:30 and sometimes I’ll sneak in another hour or two after dinner. But my writing routine generally consists of doing emails, blogs, and other correspondence in the (late) mornings. Then every afternoon, Monday through Friday, I write from about 1 until 6. Saturdays and Sundays I am not so disciplined, but I often do revisions and critiques on those days. If I am ‘on a writing roll’ or I have a deadline, I’ll write on Saturday nights, often into the wee hours of the morning.
I am what we writers call a ‘pantser,’ which means I write by the seat of my pants. The opposite of a ‘pantser’ is a ‘plotter.’ This is someone who lays out everything before they write one word of their story. Heaven knows I have tried to be more of a plotter. I went so far as to write an eleven page outline of The Wild Sight before I started writing the first draft. Unfortunately, my characters had other ideas, and by the third chapter, I’d gone so far astray from the outline that it was useless!
When I wrote The Treasures of Venice, I was totally ‘pantsing’ the whole thing! I knew who my characters were, that the jewels had been stolen and somehow they must be found again. But I didn’t have a clue how. Part of the beauty of being a ‘pantser’ is that my sub-conscious is constantly working on my story whether I am writing or not. I distinctly remember I was in the middle of writing Chapter 6, when one morning I woke up and BAM! I knew the ending! I knew exactly where and how they were going to find those jewels. I felt great!
If only my writing process always worked that way, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Sometimes I write myself into a corner and I have to stop working on the story, go away and do something else for awhile and let my sub-conscious sort things out. Luckily, within a few hours it usually does. And then there are the days when I’m on that ‘writing roll’ I mentioned. Those are the days it is truly wonderful to be a ‘pantser!’ The words just flow and I almost feel like I am ‘channeling’ my characters. I love those days.
So, in a nutshell, that’s how I do it: Show up everyday, give my sub-conscious free rein, and hope that my characters take over. I’m not exactly sure why this works, and I definitely don’t recommend every writer try it. I only know it works for me.
Are any of you writers? Do you have a routine? Or if you’re not a writer, are there certain things you have to do during the day to make it feel right?
About the Author
Loucinda McGary took early retirement from her managerial career to pursue her twin passions of travel and writing, and sets her novels of romantic suspense in the fascinating places she has visited. She was a finalist in the 2006 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest in Romantic Suspense. She lives in Sacramento, CA. For more information, please visit http://loucindamcgary.com/.
If I were a writer, and I am most definitely not, I believe I would be a "plotter". I have lists and reminders and calendars all over with the things I need to get done or where I need to be. It is hard for me to fly by the seat of my pants - or probably more true - it is hard for me to REMEMBER all that I need to do if I don't write it down! But to answer one of her questions above - "are there certain things you have to do during the day to make it feel right?" Even though I have lists of things to do, there have been times I have been none to ignore them all and the day feels just fine to me, so maybe I can fly be the seat of my pants on occasion!
Now for the giveaway! Danielle and Sourcebooks are giving away one set of Cindy's two books: The Wild Sight and The Treasures of Venice! This giveaway is open to U.S./Canada only - no PO boxes. It will end on Sept 29. All you have to do is leave a comment below with your email address to enter. For an additional entry, please visit Cindy's website or blog - Aunty Cindy Explains It All and tell me something you have learned about Cindy or her books!