Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I like listening to famous authors tell about their writing process, because they're all different. Here are a few examples I've collected, with my reaction.

Lee Child says he writes a book once and allows his editor to make a few suggestions for changes, but only two or three.
   I could never operate this way, being one who needs feedback. If it works for him, great.

Mark Billingham says his process often involves lying on the couch staring at the ceiling for long periods of time.
  I can relate to that, although if you're a regular reader, you know I'm more likely to take a walk when I need to think things through.

Robert Barnard said he simply began writing and went where the story led him. He admitted he sometimes ended up stuck but said it was like climbing a mountain. You might come to a spot where you can climb no farther, but looking around, you see where you've been and where you need to go.

That's most like my process. I simply cannot plot a book out with sticky notes or sheets of diagrams. I try, but the actual writing is what fuels the story for me. When I get to page 38, I think, "Oh, THAT'S why she's at this conference--she wants to be a clothing designer!" I go back to page 12 and add that.

Like Mr. Barnard, I look back and see how things should be, and the story gets stronger each time. It means I will print off the first 50 or 100 pages several times and read from the beginning, keeping in mind where it's going so I can give the reader the information she needs.

My way might take longer, but maybe not in the end. If some authors can put it all together in their heads or on a storyboard, that's great. You either put in the time before you start the actual writing or during. I work best by jumping in, then taking two steps forward and one step back.

Next week I think I'll be ready to share some thoughts on the fifth Sleuth Sisters and where I am on that particular mountain.


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