Monday, January 2, 2012

This is How I Write

New Year's Resolution Number n. In other words, I have no idea what number I'm up to now. I keeping making them; we'll see if I keep any of them.

Still, this blog was ostensibly for writing about writing, which I haven't been doing. I did finally finish the last academic paper on December 31st and it is now emailed to my supervisor. I can only cross my fingers and pray at this point. I'm rather proud of it, but that usually ends badly.

How about a blog post about how I write? Or how I start writing, would be closer to the mark.

I have three ways. Which one works at any given time is rather arbitrary. There's the 'by way of title', which is when I come up with a really good title (or someone gives me one) and then I have to spend a long time coming up with a good story idea to match. I like this, in that it doesn't restrict my writing topic, but it can sometimes be hard to go from a few words to a whole story.

The second way I write is 'by summary'. I know the basic plot of the story in my head, but then I need to flesh it out to actually write it. The only downside of this particular way is that the title usually comes last. And very often, the title is the hardest part! I often end up emailing writing friends for help because I simply have no idea. [Point in proof, the last story I finished had this issue. A friend gave me a well as another one (see 'by way of title')!]

The last way I write is 'by first line'. Something like: 'She does, actually, go to Nepal. For a while.'

From there, the story generally just flows. I have no proconceived notion of where it's going to go; I just write until I come to an end. Or what I think the end should be. Summaries for these sorts of stories tend to be lines taken from the text. And the titles usually occur to me late at night or early in the morning when I can't sleep. [Often, that's when these stories occur to me to, as the line above did last night just before bed and then proceeded to keep me up half the night.]

Right now I have the above 'first line' story on the go, a 'by way of title' story and also, my favourite kind, the 'by summary'. It makes me happy.