How My Characters Come to Life
As a writer, I am always fascinated by the creative process each writer goes through. Becoming part of the writing community on Twitter has helped immensely. I’ve found there’s a 5am writers club, which consists of a lot of coffee tweets! But there’s a writer for each time of day. But it isn’t just the time of day that fascinates me. I love learning about how people write. Beverage of choice, location, time of day, but most importantly, how does each writer start a new project?
What helped me with writing my first novel was the idea that I couldn’t follow anyone else’s creative path. I had done that for many years, but when my idea became a serious novel idea, it resulted into a writer’s block because I was trying to be someone I’m not. I broke the “rules” I had set as a standard and created my own methods.
I recently just got in the head space to start my second novel, so I figured now would be the perfect time to dive into my creative process.
We can begin with the basics:
Beverage: Coffee or Red Wine
Location: Preferably a coffee shop
Time of Day: Middle of Day—Rain preferred (but never works out that way)
I am a writer—as I’m sure most are—who likes things in a particular fashion. I wouldn’t call myself O.C.D. unless it comes to a productive writing day. If one thing is off, my writing will suffer. The most productive is always at a coffee shop. But I need to be in a certain seat at a certain place. The place can differ, but only if I’ve found the perfect seat. I will drive a far distance if I know I have to be in a specific location one day. You can blame anxiety for that if you’d like.
When it’s going to be a long writing day, I’ll drink black filtered coffee. But if I’m going to a cafe to write out of comfort, always a latte. But if the mood is off in the slightest, whether the coffees too bitter, the person next to me is talking to loud, or I have too many things on the to-do list, my writing will most likely suffer.
If I’m home, I prefer to be curled up on my couch with some wine. But comfort usually wins and I get drowsy, so I need to sit at my desk, but if it’s after four, wine is often in hand.
But what about starting a new idea? How does that turn into a novel?
I’ve found mulling the ideas over in my head for a few weeks has been the best method yet. I start to write the story in my head, sometimes in a very detailed fashion. I usually work out the beginning, middle, and preferred ending all before my fingers reach the keys. I find that if I keep coming back to an idea every day, than it’s pretty safe the idea will work. If it’s good enough, the urge to write will get stronger each day, to the point where my mind is bubbling over and all I want to do is write. And sometimes I let myself. But sometimes the idea hasn’t come to full term yet and the writing flops. So I wait a little more.
By this point, I’m falling asleep writing the book in my head. I become distracted in every day life because I have to think of this book idea. I start to hear the characters. They begin to tell me who they are, what their names are, and why I should write about them.
Around this time, I’ll plan a perfect writing day. Of course, perfection doesn’t exist, but I find time in my schedule to make sure I have uninterrupted writing time. I make sure that nothing else needs to be a distraction and I’ll have at least two-three hours of pure dedication to this new idea. If I can get this uninterrupted time, it’s easier to write in short time periods in the future. During this time, I’ll often find myself in Target staring at the notebooks, wondering which one will scream, “next novel!” I always need to purchase a new notebook for a new idea.
Then if I have time or need further inspiration, I’ll start a private Pinterest page for my novel. What do the characters look like? What does the town or their homes look like? Whatever becomes helpful information that I may want to go back and look at time and time again gets found and saved.
Once the day arrives to set aside everything and write, I start with the strongest idea. It doesn’t have to be in order. I write what’s begging to be released. I get everything I can out and then if I stop suddenly, but have to keep writing something else, I’ll start a new document and get all of those ideas out.
Sometimes chronological order doesn’t work for me. That’s often when I get writer’s block. So while compiling documents later sometimes is extra work, I find it helps the story come together more efficiently.
And usually after my massive writing stint, I’ll then create flash cards of each major scene that needs to be written. I’ll create a storyboard on my bulletin board and then I’ll have a timeline. I’ve even used my iCalendar at times to pinpoint certain dates in my character’s life. Sometimes time is the hardest thing to keep track of!
After that, the idea is fresh, begging to be written every free moment I have. And if the idea is good enough, I’ll be inspired for weeks before the first writer’s block hits and I roll out my methods to get through it.
So for now I’ll continue mulling my ideas around until this Friday when I can sit down and write. My location will be a coffee shop, in the middle of the day, but I guarantee you rain won’t exist … because well, Florida. But hey, a girl can dream, right?
If you’re a writer, what does your process look like? I’d love to know!