I’m a hybrid between a pantser and a planner. I’ll work through the beginning of a story, think about my characters, what they look like, what they do, possible story arcs, everything I can possibly think of… up to
about halfway through. Then, once I know who they are, I let them run riot. I’ll have a general idea of where I’d like them to go and more often they not, they do. But, more than once, I have gone to my husband with tears in my eyes and cried, “Miriam just left her husband! I can’t believe it!!” and he would give me a hug me. They get to where I want them to go eventually, but they let me know they are doing it under their terms.
There are always three or four things cooking on the stovetop of my mind and regardless of what I’m doing, they are all cooking at the same time. This article talked about how people usually only get these flashes of inspiration right when they’re falling asleep, the associations between different things, the unexpected, the delightful, whatevers. I’m a little jealous, truth to tell. I would love for my busy little brain to just shut up for a bit and leave me alone and let me space out.
Although, the upside to this is, when I get stuck on some dialogue, I’ll start to play Magic Piano and play Mozart’s Requiem. By the time I’m to the Confutatis, even if I (the conscious me me) don’t quite know what’s going to happen, I start to type and it burbles right out.
It’s funny. I understand why the ancient Greeks gave so much thanks and veneration to the Muses. When the dialogue comes out and I feel like I’m not writing it, it’s just dictation. This also reminds me of how Stephen King described the writing process in Misery as a hole in the paper. Sometimes the hole was just a tiny little pinhole and you could barely see anything. Other times the hole was so big he could stick his whole head through. That is the best description of how I feel about my own writing process.
One of the other things in that Atlantic article was mental illness. I’m rocking depression and OCD/anxiety here. One of the most unanticipated blessings of being a writer (or at least wanting to be one 😉 ) is that all of the possible calamity my brain throws at me becomes fodder for plots and stories. I say, “Thank you brain for that wonderful calamity. I am sure it will end up happening to some poor soul in a future book.” and I go about my day.
But, if occasional depression and OCD/anxiety are to blame for the way my brain works, I’ll take it. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to, but it’s pretty interesting in here. Noisy maybe, cluttered maybe and the random, occassional OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER THOUGHT BEFORE!! MY POOR LITTLE CHARACTER SO-AND-SO!!! explosion, but if it means I get to come up with stories and characters and follow them around, scribbling down their exploits, well, that sounds ok to me. If this is the price, so be it. I will pay it and pay it gladly.
Thalia picture from Wikipedia, public domain