Now that I’ve started writing again, I fully understand why I was so hesitant to jump back into it. The creative process is a bear. It really is. You start out with an idea, spend months and months thinking about it, dreaming about it, mapping it out, even listening to its soundtrack until you feel solid enough to put something on paper. I outline, and I mean thoroughly outline. I have outlines that are ten pages long. I do research. Do ALL of this leg work and as soon as I start writing the damn thing it goes wildly off the course I so painstakingly planned.
I know it’s cliché to say that the characters become alive to the author, but it is so true. I’ve laughed and cried with my characters; really, really ached for them. They become real once you start writing, and as cool as the experience is, it can get frustrating when they hijack your story and make it their own. It all ends well, of course, but the creative process is exhausting. It’s a lot of work, endless work. So, why do it? Simply because I have to. And I love it.
When the inspiration hits, I just start writing. I used to write songs and the inspiration would hit at the oddest times: like while I was driving on the freeway zooming into the spaghetti bowl. I used to carry a notepad and pen in my car so I could write things down as they came to me, but I was getting so prolific that, in the interests of safety, I bought a mini tape recorder and carried it with me so I could just talk into it.
Every author has their own quirks, their own ways of doing things and mine is very much inspiration-based. Sure, I can bang out something if needed, but it won’t be something with heart or that I believe in. So, I choose not to do things that way. I wait for the inspiration to hit and then pounce on it like a ravenous animal on food scraps. I think this is why the creative process is so exhausting to me. It’s a yo-yo at maximum speed, and sometimes it has me juggling between projects.
When I began writing again this year, I started on one project. Felt great about it. Was in the groove and then that inspiration went right off the deep-end. Just disappeared, because another project suddenly woke up inside of me and I had to yield to it.
As I walk my coonhound, I realize he does the same thing: zig-zags on the trail just following his nose, treating each direction with equal zest. But when he hits on a particular scent in a particular direction, he’s off and running and there’s no stopping him. I guess that’s me when it comes to writing.