Obviously, I still love to cook. Just because I’ve chosen the author path, doesn’t mean I’ve forsaken my roots. Special occasions, holidays—apple season is like Applepiepocalypse around here. I have nightmares about being chased through the streets by an enormous peeler flanked by jars of cinnamon wearing gang colors.
This says a lot about how my mind works…
But anyway, every once in awhile, someone will ask me for a recipe. This is a problem. Why? Because I don’t follow recipes. And when I try to write ingredients down as I’m cooking, it leads to disaster.
I’ve come to realize my writing works the same way. Everyone has their own process. Something unique that works for them. Mine is, well, messy. Organic. Some of my more organized writer friends look at me like I’ve got two heads, a tail and am wearing a pair of flashing neon chaps. But for me, it works.
Matter of fact, it’s the only thing that works.
I’ve tried to do it the other way. Outlines and character bio sheets. Research and plotting. All that planning ahead trips me up. I think it’s because I’m putting too much thought into it. Instead of just going with my muse and letting the story and characters (or recipe) take shape, I’m obsessing over the details. Did I get the voice right? Is that really enough sugar?
I think of the first draft as the ingredient gathering stage. Start with a concept (dish) and build from there. For me, it’s usually the hook that pops first. Sprinkle in some world building and a kick ass character or two, and you’re ready to rock.
Once you’ve got everything together, you move on to the revisions (cooking). Revisions are kind of like making Risotto. If you over toast the rice (story) the outcome is going to be less flavorable. Going through and adding layer by layer to your story is like adding the broth to the rice as it cooks. Slowly absorbing flavor.
Then, when you think it might be time to yank that puppy from the burner, you need to do a taste test. This is where betas and CPs come in. You send your work out, they sample it and tell you what it needs and if they think you’ve overcooked anything. Luckily, with writing it’s much easier to fix an over written scene than a burned batch of biscotti and an oven fire.
Yeah… Um, that’s a totally different post.
So come out and share your process. Do you follow an outline? Maybe you just jot down a few notes and see where they go. Or are you like me? Throw things into the pot and let the chips—chocolate preferably—fall where they may.