Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mysterous Process

I think we may all be in agreement that the process of writing a book is strange and convoluted. Yet, everyone wants to know how a writer works. Do you write in the morning? Do you write every day? Do you have a special place to write? Do you compose on the computer?
Really all of this doesn’t matter. I’ve published thirteen books now (and written more) and am still trying to come up with a process strategy. This is what I’ve decided so far:
Every book is writing for the first time. Every book teaches you something new. Every book has it’s own process. Every book is different.
Not very enlightening, but still it’s fascinating (to me) where this stuff comes from and how we do it. A voyeur peeking in the window to watch a writer work would see what? Someone sitting at a computer, or lying on the floor, or pacing the room, or petting the cat. Most likely nothing exciting or informative. What I really want to watch is what goes on in the brain. Tell me which image attached is the more interesting.
It doesn’t matter a hoot how you work, what matters is how your mind works. However all we have is what we see on the outside to give us a glimpse into the inner workings. Unless of course we are writers and we get to explore brains every day, our own and our characters’.
The novel I am currently writing is nothing like my others, so I am learning everything again for the first time. How exciting (or agonizing depending on the day).
I am curious what other writers think.


  1. Definitely the brain image. And what weird timing! I'm halfway through a wonderful book that is all about the brain and language and art and history, The Master and his Emissary: the Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, by Iain McGilchrist.

  2. Wow--If I knew my brain looked that cool, I'd wear it on the outside! :-)

    As you say, Lisa, every writing day and task is different. I even approach different chapters differently. Sometimes at the keyboard in the draft itself, sometimes in my journal, sometimes on 4x6 note cards, sometimes with colored pens on a legal pad. Whatever works that day. It always feels like ideas come into my inner writing room (brain) like wisps of smoke, then form into ghostly holograms that gradually take shape.