I insist you must watch the below video first! No scrolling to the text first! I mean it! Don’t make me karate chop you! KERCHAW! Let that be your only warning.
Now don’t you wish you had these lovely Lollipop Patrols to help guide you through the writing process. Hear me out now. I’m sure they’d do a fine job of it. Even if it’s not in their job description, I do believe they’d be up to the task! I came across this hilarious video after reading about the Highlights Fiction Contest, which led me to a wacky news article headline, and hence the video above. So it got me thinking about my writing process and how phenomenal it would be if we all had something like these Lollipop gals to guide us along–no fret or bother–the whole process. So after also reading about another author’s writing process, I started evaluating mine. Have at it!
Where do all my ideas come from?
Very weird dreams, something silly my children have said (or another child), something from a cartoon or comic, lyrics to a song, and sometimes ideas come while doing silly things, and they even come to me while doing the mundane (yes, ideas come while I do house chores and floss my teeth).
Where do I write them all down?
Sticky pads, scraps of paper, my hand, the back of a receipt, thick notebooks, gum wrappers. I’ve even texted an idea to myself from my own phone or from my husbands phone–I really need to remember to put a notepad and pen by my bed! I’ve even written ideas down in the shower, steam and glass make a VERY good partnership (AKA one fabulous pen) at least until someone intent on disturbing you opens the door, disrupting said flow of glorious savior-like steam….not to mention your thoughts.
What happens to that idea:
Sometimes I toss the idea around in my head and write keywords down on paper. Sometimes I do a query first or write about the characters that I find interesting or surprising. Sometimes I type out dialogue on the computer, or even images or scenes. Sometimes the idea has not evolved enough to be a complete picture book and so I have to set it aside. Other times I have the biggest idea in my head that is bursting to get out and I can’t get it down fast enough because it feels too huge ( like Bubbilicious big and ready to burst) and I keep running out of paper to write it all down. Breathe! Breathe! Please remember to breathe during these moments dear writer because we kid not, these moments are pretty scary. A writer without paper, a head brimful of ideas…what a nightmare! What to do? What to do? Let it be known, I have gone so far as to get my kids to memorize the idea for me, or at least the key words of the idea. My son has this amazing memory; I don’t know what I’d do without the help of his brain. Bless his brain.
So the idea is set on paper, not in stone okay:
I begin my first draft. I decide everything I wrote is not worth the dirt on the bottom of my shoe. I reach for a pen to scratch it out or for the delete button on my laptop. Just before I crumble it and toss the thing or decide to delete it, I decide that one line is worth saving….or at least rewriting. Then I realize I could go with this, so I roll with the punches. I rewrite the whole thing, or most of it. After several drafts, I again send it off to critique group. I even let my husband read it. Sometimes I read it to the munchkins for kicks while I wait things out. I wait some more…expecting the worst, hoping for the best. Finally I get what I was waiting for…yup good ol’ constructive criticism come to poke and prod maybe even frighten me a little (think: boogie man eebie jeebie style)…but no, I look down and behold I see OPINIONS, because that is exactly what they are, (with the exception of grammatical errors and typos-everyone hates those, but hey, they happen to the best of us, right?)
Sink or doggy paddle to the edge of the bank?
Then I let the critique sink in for about 24 hours or so. After I recover I make changes I agree with. I never change something if it ruins my vision of something or makes me feel like I wouldn’t want my name on it. So I write (sometimes while listening to inspiring music. Yes, I have lists of this “writerly” music) until my fingers ache and I am gasping for breath at the edge of the page. Then I know I am ready for critique again. Sometimes this process leads me to the finish line with 20 something drafts/revisions plus or minus! It gets tiring. Then there are the days I feel I am rotting beneath the pages, like my talent is not good enough. I cry. We all do. Then I read my favorite writing quotes, but especially the one about my tastes not being close enough to my ambitions. I keep writing because I’m no quitter. I want to reach my ambitions.
This is where I really start to panic. I, after one more critique group, am exhausted! More O-P-I-N-I-O-N-S-! I’m up against the wall and cornered. And all the extra opinions may as well be onion breath, because I’m suffocating. I don’t know what else I can possibly change about this creation of mine. I feel crazed, like Frankenstein. I want to be able to scream at the top of my lungs “It’s alive! It’s alive!” but I’m not there yet. I’m just not there. Gah! I shut the project in a drawer. I leave it there a while. I go live my life. I brainstorm again. I have fun. I forget the project. And then…when I’m not paying attention, and my kids and husband are enjoying life just as much as I am, it comes to me. Yes, that idea, that vision I have hidden away, has surfaced. There’s is no stopping me now. I’m at it again, but this time I have hope (and chocolate chip cookies) by my side. 🙂
Until…it all begins all over again. Indeed it does.