Playing With Your Process

28 Nov

I’ve blogged before about knowing your process and using your process and even what my process is (which I get much slack for…but it works for me)…But, today I’m going to talk about playing with your process.

The problem with a process is that it can become a barrier. When a tool becomes a set of superstitions, you’ve got a problem.

One of the cardinal rules of my process is that for that initial 9-12 days I do my Disaster Draft (the first run through of putting my story on the page) I do only writing. There’s no other incoming source of story. No TV. No books. No movies. No radio. No music outside that story’s playlist. Nothing. Nothing that’s going to place something beyond my story inside my head.

This ahs been a point of annoyance for some friends. Especially if we’re writing together somewhere during that time. They want to take breaks and watch movies or chill in front of the TV and I’ve always said, I’m sorry. I can’t. If you want to though, go for it.

The past book, I began to wonder if maybe that part of my process had become a superstition. That I was holding so hard to that idea that maybe it wasn’t even valid now… or maybe it wasn’t even valid before.

This DD I allowed myself to do all those things. My writing was getting finished on my commute, so by the time I got home, not only was my writing brain exhausted, but I’d managed to hit my page count as well. It seemed I deserved a reward.

The question I bet your asking yourself is: Did it work? Were you able to write your DD as well as usual breaking that rule?

Well, the answer isn’t a clean yes or no. Yes, I got my DD done in my normal amount of time. Yes, it’s a full story and has all the key stuff a DD should have. Yes, it’s a great base to work from. But there’s a little bit of no in there too.

I feel like the whiteboard is a little more crowded with “go back and”s — I feel like some of the characters growth is in jumps instead of seamless straight line. Maybe there’s a few more extra small scenes that need to be added or pumped up.

Granted, if you’re following this book’s progress, it’s had more than its fair share of set backs (lost pages, a downloading issue, the idea that its very different from what’s going on in the YA world right now)… but in the long run, I have to stop and ask: What’s different in the “no” way because of the change in process? What did I lose by testing this rule? Did I gain anything?

And so, if you’re not testing y our process — or maybe if you don’t even know what your process is — it’s time to do that. It’s time to learn how you work, because if you’re not testing the process, you’re not growing the process.


4 Responses to “Playing With Your Process”

  1. Sofia Harper November 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    I have written my fair share of books and I’ve learned the whatever works for the story process works for me. The only thing that hinders a story from being written well, even for a first draft, is not knowing the heart of the story and the heart of the characters. I have my bag of tricks–pantsing, plotting, ploddding– all roads have to lead to the heart or I’m spending way too much time in the back end of revisions trying to discover the actual story. Not good at all.

  2. briaq November 29, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    True, it’s all about know what works for you to make that all come together!

  3. abby mumford November 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    it’s a fine line, this knowing your process. it seems to me that it’s often a fluid thing, once that depends upon your personal life, the characters, and the story at large. i think you’re right in that the only way to know what works for you is to try out new ways of writing. you’re doing that and you’re getting the story down and out, so who’s to say what’s write or wrong or necessary or not? it only means you revise more later instead of now.

  4. briaq November 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Nods, that’s true…BUT, the more revisions you have to do later because you let things fall through the cracks, the more two things are going to happen:
    1. You’re going to get frustrated revising when you could have had a smoother ride
    2. You’re more likely to lose scenes

    For me, a lot of what happens (when I don’t let other stories in my head as I write) is the little stuff that “looks” like magic. The things that happen organicially in your story that are the “extras”…that aren’t extra. It’s hard to just slot those in (for me) and make them look natural.

    In Secret Life, Rachel has a lipgloss obsession that plays a important role in showing something about her everyone missed…that was one of those little things that grew. I can’t say for sure it would have. I’m already making notes for LRT (this current ms) about “little things” I didn’t grow through out the book.
    Now, making them look organic is going to be work…instead of them being there because of the continued flow.

    In the end, will the book be basically the same? Maybe. But, why create extra work? Revisions can be REALLY REALLY REALLY hard. It’s our job to make them look REALLY REALLY REALLY easy. Why add another REALLY in front of “hard” if there are simple ways to avoid it AND make a better story at the same time?

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