Thursday, March 11, 2010

Zoning, wait. That's not right. Ahem...Getting into the Zone.

So this week, the fun and fantastic Cory Jackson is asking:

What goes into the creative process of writing a novel? (things like writing environment, author's mindset, and is there chemical involvement? LOL, I added that last one on just for giggles!)

Another great question, with a somewhat long-ish and at times, convoluted answer. I think Ms. Cory likes to make us work for her! That's okay. This is pretty fun...or else I wouldn't be doing it.

So, what goes into my creative process?

First, the idea must take shape. By this, I mean, I am usually just going about my day, minding my own damned business when some vicious character starts screaming at me. Of course, I look around to see who can be so rude. Only after a few moments do I realize that the voices are coming from inside my head. Then, I try to ignore them. (They always seem to show up at the worst times).

When I am finally free to devote a meaningful amount of attention to them, I hie myself off to my den/guest bedroom/exercise room (exercise room because it does have a rarely used treadmill folded up in the corner). I sit myself behind the desk and flip on the computer (usually after moving the cat from off the keyboard).

This is the moment when the characters that have been fighting for the spotlight all day, night, week...whatever suddenly become silent. Seriously. Nothing but crickets. The little bastards.

I am the most stubborn person I know, so I sit there...and sit there...and sit there. Sometimes, I play fetch with the dog. Others, I spy on the weird guy that lives behind me and to the left. He's lived there for two years now, and I am still convinced he has several bodies chopped up in his freezer. One of these days, my super secret life as a double agent will pay off and I will have the evidence needed to make a citizens' arrest. Until then....well, you get the point.

Once my characters come out of hiding, the real fun begins, and I can get to work. My desk goes from being a clean, orderly work space to looking like the aftermath of ground zero from a recent nuclear attack. It's not pretty. And, it stays that way until I finish whatever WIP I am working on. Really, my desk is only clean for like a day or two before it becomes completely unrecognizable as I always seem to be working on something.

But, I don't just stay chained to the desk at my house (although that is my preferred workspace). Have laptop, will write is what I always say. It's like my own personal mantra. Lunch at Panera? Get in that fight scene that's been rolling around in my head all morning. The cream of broccoli soup always helps get the creative juices flowing! And, I just HAVE to go to B&N after work. While I'm there, I might as well stop in the coffee shop. Three hours and 1,500 words later... Oh, and let's not forget the time that I actually pulled my blackberry out just before church services started and quickly (a lot of spelling/grammar errors...I am clearly not talented at the whole writing thing on a phone) threw out a few hundred words of dialogue that just wouldn't leave my head.

Yeah, I can make do just about anywhere. As long as my characters are speaking to me, the where and the how really isn't all that important. Oh, and FYI: the only chemical involvement in my writing process comes from the caffeine I ingest from the gallons of tea, Dr. Pepper and lattes I consume while at it!

Here are the wonderful the bloggers that are taking part in Cory's blogfest experiment(I'm just a lurker!). I highly recommend you check them all out!

Click on any of the writer’s names below to view their blog.
Cory Jackson: Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream
Kate Hart: Stephen King’s On Writing
Jamie Blair: Thomas Monteleone’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Writing A Novel
Laura McMeeking: Natalie Naimark-Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Debra Driza: James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure
Leila Austin: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird
Sarah Harian: Gotham Writers’ Workshop’s Writing Fiction
Jennifer Wood: Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing


  1. Great post, Karla! I wish I could write anywhere. It just never seems to work that way.

  2. This was funny and refreshing. I like Dr Pepper too! Once, in the movies, I pulled out my notebook and started writing cause I had some dialogue that I didn't want to forget.

  3. wow, great post! thanks so much for sharing!!


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