Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mysterious Process, II

Lisa writes about process below. I've always told people your process should be whatever works for you, and Lisa's right to specify further--your process is whatever works for you for this book.

I used to write five pages a day. I would put my butt in the chair and not get out until those five pages were done. And when they were, my husband would reward me with two Reese's Peanut Butter cups (the little kind). It was great--I'd finish a draft in 3-4 months, my brain was really always working on the book, my chapters unfolded in perfect 15-page chunks, and my finger got a sense of the arc and fall of those five pages. I loved it, and it was always such a good answer when people would ask, "How do you write?"

I didn't have a kid then. Our rent then was the size of our heating bill now. I had something resembling a brain at that point--and that brain wasn't always focused on when the electricity bill shows up in my online banking or which kind of peanut butter makes my little boy weep the tears of the emotionally shattered.

Now I can only write when I can write--and some days the time stretches out before me like an empty field and the words come sprinting across it, and other days that field is littered with bear traps. I was told that being a mother makes writing easier--that you have much less time and so you make better use of it. The people who told me this are liars.

My process now is to write what I can, when I can. I write around the bear traps. It's a lot less of a good answer to that process question. And there's a lot less chocolate.


  1. It's all relative, Anne. I loved those toddler days, but having fewer hours to write does not make one more productive.

    I'm coming off six weeks' medical leave and am feeling the agony of reporting back to my full-time job. During the hiatus from work, I managed a full revision of my novel in 30 days, was able to work at a time of day when my brain was actually functioning, had writing hours available in half-day chunks, and still time to take a walk outdoors.

    Now I go back to writing on my lunch hour, trying to write in the evening when my brain is numb, shutting out my family on weekends, and trying to survive on six hours' sleep at best.

    I seriously need to save up medical leave time again and find some more organs for the doctor to remove.

  2. Wow, Debra, what some folks won't do to get in a little writing time. ;-)

    Anne, it's such a change to your process. Do you think the books you write now are somehow different because of the different process?

  3. "Writing around the bear traps" is the perfect description. I can only hope that, while I'm stuck here chewing off my leg, I'll ingest material that I can use later.

  4. I've started getting up at five in the a.m. (not every day) to get extra time in. I cannot find the words to explain my irritation when sometimes on those days my kids mysteriously wake up early too. In the words of my 6 and a 1/2 year old, "IT's NOT FAIR!"

    I wonder if I will ever know what the way is that I write a book?