Writing process

I spent most of the day cleaning up a few odds and ends on the website, and catching up on my submission rejections :)

I've got a few pieces out there that are still in the running - so I remain hopeful. But my attention tomorrow must return to writing again. I've made a few notes and a plot draft for a new cli-fi, and there are any number of short story submission deadlines approaching. The cli-fi is already getting me excited, so if that survives the initial phase of energy followed by cynical self-criticism, maybe I'll be sharing my progress on these pages in a few days or weeks.

I have officially stopped editing Brane Space. I like the novel, especially some of the characters, so definitely no need to go further until I have some solid feedback from third parties. I'll just see how the first couple of dozen submissions go! I'm proud of the result. 103,000 words, and it's as good as my bloodied fists can make it. Maybe I should try using my fingers?

Speaking of which - writing process: I don't know what the majority method might be, but over the years I've come up with a process that works for me.

Phase 0 - I always carry a small notebook, to record weird and wonderful rubbish that I'm thinking or witnessing in everyday life. I wouldn't want to share the contents with anybody (!), but normally a few ideas flourish and either directly or indirectly lead me to something I'm interested in writing about.

Phase 1 - I'm more a seat-of-the-pants writer than a full planner, but I also know that failure to plan to a certain critical level will only result in chaos (which is great fun in the moment, but bloody boring by the time you come to the 21st edit). I usually note down solid ideas and plot elements in Scrivener. Occasionally those ideas germinate and I'll complete all the elements that I need to start writing. As a framework, I use the advice of Walter Mosley's guide together with the Dramatica Theory.  More on that another time; the crucial result is a set of rules to work by, sculpted by 'story goal', 'theme', 'main character', etc. It works.

Phase 2 - the fun part; where I test the bounds of Ernest Hemingway's mantra that “The first draft of anything is shit.” I just write. And here is where sometimes I have the greatest of difficulty not to start editing as I go. When I sit drafting on the computer, I'm always noticing the spellcheck result in the line above, or feel the need to go back and swap sentence clauses around. Rather than continue to tell myself to stop, I have developed a low-tech solution. It's called pencil and paper. Incredible, eh? I must be a genius. Best of all, when writing by hand, I find that it's much easier to glance up the length of the notebook sheet and get a feel for the rhythm. No, I don't know why - except for the fact that you can see more of the page!

Moreover, having spent a career in hi-tech industry, it's enormously refreshing to get back to basics. Stripped down, in exactly the same why as I want my prose to be.

book handwriting

Phase 3 - I keep writing. And writing. I resist the temptation to type my draft up on the computer for five or even ten thousand words at a time. Then I write more. And write. And...well, you get the idea.


Damn, I'm excited already. Tomorrow - Phases 2 and 3?

Let's see.

Robin HicksonComment