The actual process of writing is different for every writer. I have always been fascinated by the habits of different writers, new and professional alike. How they get inspiration, when and where they write, what tools they use, what helps them in times of writer’s block, how long it takes and how they structure things. I’ve gotten ideas myself from what others have used. I also believe that by examining our own habits, we discover what is working and how we can improve.
A new story, for me, always begins with the desire to write. This is not to say that I only write when I have that desire. One of the best teachers I ever had told me that there is a difference between writers and people who write. A person who writes does so when the mood takes them, at their convenience, as a hobby more than anything else. A writer, however, writes with consistency, whether the mood is there or not. It is that steady habit of writing, no matter what tries to interfere, that creates a true–and professional–writer.
However, that is the steady habit of a work-in-progress (of which I always have one or two). Something new comes from this crazed desire to begin afresh. It’s a kind of insanity, I suppose, these stories that erupt from the depths of one’s mind and demand to be told. But anyone who clings to sanity will struggle to be a true writer. (Anyone who hears voices in their head is surely insane!)
I’ve been feeling this way for several weeks now, this growing need to start a new story. It doesn’t always come with an idea. However, I have the fortune to have a co-author who has yet to ever come up short in the idea department. It amazes me how often our ideas coincide, not only the timing, but also the feel and the topic. More that once, we have independently had ideas that mesh so well it was like they were made for each other, without any prior discussion or planning. But we’re just weird that way.
Last week, Sam put down for me some ideas he’d been having about a philosophy system for a world. It was still pretty basic, and had little to do with a story. It was more the foundation of a world. However, the two of us continued our discussion about this philosophy over the next several days, and started discussing some thoughts on culture and setting for this world. Sam’s wife Ashley mentioned some books that our discussion made her think of, so I went to the library and read them over the weekend. This week, our discussions have continued.
Sam and I have a very organic method to our co-writing. Sam is the worldbuilder. With some input from me, he develops the worlds of our stories, the cultures and history and power systems. Together, we develop characters and general plot. But when I have enough information–a fine line I have yet to define–I start writing.
That day was today. I woke up this morning with the first chapter in my mind. Someone on Twitter said it sounded like dark magic, but I responded somewhat in jest that I preferred to think of it as divine inspiration. I am a discovery writer, and writing on the go is what I do. I am fortunate to have Sam, who keeps me on track when my impulse-writing threatens to take me in wild, unplanned and unsalvagable directions.
So today I went to my favorite writing spot, a cafe near my house with great food, great atmosphere, and a great wifi connection. The buswoman knows me now, and asked what I was working on today. As soon as I sat down, I started writing. And when I reached the end of the first chapter, I stopped to write this post.
Writing is a different experience for everyone. Our experience is a little different simply because there are two of us. As this work progresses, I will write again about the process and how it develops for Sam and myself. But the one thing that is most important for every writer is to write. Write consistently, write often. Find what works for you, and make it happen. Those habits of consistency are what make us writers.