Book Club discussion

The Creative Process

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message 1: by John (new)

John Cicero | 71 comments Mod
Let discuss your creative process here, and yes, be as creative as you like...

What gets you in the mood to begin to create?

message 2: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) Sometimes it's a phrase, a news story/event, or just a whole concept that springs full-blown. It varies widely for me.

message 3: by Terry (new)

Terry Odell (terryodell) | 38 comments The thought that if I don't get going on writing, I'll have to do laundry and clean toilets.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

message 4: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Hallinan | 25 comments Writing is a job for me, although it's also a joy and (except for my wife) the thing I love best in my life. It's a job in the sense that I sit down every day, seven days a week, and work at it. Norman Mailer once said that being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day, and while I wouldn't necessarily call myself a "real writer" (whatever that is) I do think that daily engagement in the work is absolutely necessary for a novelist and that, generally speaking, the less I want to write, the more I need to. I also agree with Picasso when he says, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

message 5: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ What gets me in the mood to write? Nothing … Everything. The desire to write isn't something I can turn on and off at will. It's an addiction, and when I crave it I can't resist it. There are certain things that inspire me to write, of course, but really nothing "makes" me write except for that it's naturally a part of me. :)

message 6: by Regan (new)

Regan Black | 6 comments Oh, well it's certainly easier to sit down and create when I'm not battling a headache - like now - but to get the fingers limber and my mind engaged, I'll often do a little stream of consciousness. Just a few minutes and then I'm usually ready to jump into it.
Of course if the story was really humming when I had to stop, usually reading the last sentence or paragraph puts me back in it and I just pick it up. Those days/writing sessions are the sweetest!

Veil of Justice

message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent (akagunslinger) I get most of my ideas when I'm driving to and from work. From there, it's a collection of notes scribbled on post-its until I have enough to get started.

message 8: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) Hmm. Good question. I'm always in the mood to write, possibly because until recently I had to steal time to do it. Now I view it as a job as well. I'm getting paid to write even if it's not fiction. So good practice for when that starts paying too I guess.

message 9: by Serena (new)

Serena Yates (serenayates) It's usually a dream that gets me started. A scene, or part of a story. If it's intriguing enough I'll sit down and think up the rest of it...

message 10: by Maria (new)

Maria | 10 comments For my novels, it might be something as simple as a news headline that triggers my imagination. For short stories, I subscribe to a monthly magazine which runs short story competitions where they give you maybe the first or last line, or a title or a character and you have to create a short story around that. I love writing short stories for competitions like that to challenge myself.
I also believe that the more an author reads the more they will be able to be creative. I used to go through phases where I would read a lot and then other phases where I would write a lot. Nowadays, I read a lot and write a lot :)

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

My imagination has been triggered by anything and everything! I'm always open to new inspiration from any direction! I like writing at any time of the day or night, and I keep my laptop right next to my bed in case I get an idea in the middle of the night so I can write it down. When I get into "writer mode" I have a hard time stopping for even food and sleeping. It just takes over my head!! I've tried to be better lately about putting it aside a little more and spending some time with my family so they don't feel neglected though! They are very supportive of me, so that helps!

message 12: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Alley (traceya) I'm another one who's always writing. It's my passion, my vocation, my everything [loved ones excluded] but I just HAVE to write. It's a part of who I am and if I'm not actually writing the scenes at the keyboard then I'm writing them in my head while I'm doing the dishes, having a shower, practically in my sleep. I love it :)

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Timothy is right, as an author, writing is a job. Yes, a passion that compels, but with deadlines, promotion, marketing and everything else, I don't always have the luxury to wait for the creative mood to strike.

Some times I stare at my computer for 30-60 minutes doing menial task of editing before I 'get' in the flow. Now, stopping once I'm on a roll, is very difficult. Sleep and food don't exist during those times.

message 14: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Alley (traceya) Shawn wrote: "Timothy is right, as an author, writing is a job. Yes, a passion that compels, but with deadlines, promotion, marketing and everything else, I don't always have the luxury to wait for the creative ..."

Actually Shawn that can be a great way to cure the dreaded 'writer's block' - re-read and edit what you last wrote, it'll get you back into the world you're creating and before you know it you're writing fresh again :)

message 15: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 66 comments Tracey wrote: "Actually Shawn that can be a great way to cure the dreaded 'writer's block' - re-read and edit what you last wrote[bold added for effect], it'll get you back into the world you're creating and before you know it you're writing fresh again :) "

I'm not sure I agree with the part of your statement that I bolded, Tracey, but that is just based on my limited experience. I have known and known of writers who try to polish chapter by chapter, re-reading and editing as they go, trying to make everything perfect that first pass. Well, few of them were able to to write anything novel-length because they were so caught up in trying to achieve perfection one sentence at a time that they forgot writing a novel is a craft, that there is an ebb and flow to the process of creating story.

I learned to take liberties with grammar, spelling, sentence structure for the first pass and just let the flow of consciousness come forth with little restraint. My co-author and I can write the entire first pass of our manuscript this way. When we have finished our train of consciousness, we can go back to the beginning and do our second pass, revising errors in continuity, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, as well as enhancing mood, characters, dialog, historical and mythological references, setting, and other aspects.

Yes, we have re-read sections to help guide us forward, especially if we have written ourselves into an obstacle, but we do not worry ourselves with the revising until the first pass of the writing is done. Then after we are finished with writing, we hire a professional editor and a professional proofreader to tidy things up for us.

This is what works for us, but it may not work with everyone's writing style. Maybe revising and editing as you go works for short-stories; I will say that many of the writers who tried to write novels by polishing sentence by sentence ended up producing short-stories instead of novels.


Christopher Dunbar

message 16: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Alley (traceya) I know totally what you mean Christopher and I wouldn't use the 'edit as you go' all the time but I find that sometimes if I'm a bit stuck, re-reading the last few paragraphs and tidying them up a little helps me get back in the mood. I still consider it a 'first draft' but it's just a way for me to get back into the story mode - or as I call it 'my doorway back to Kaynos'. lol

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I can't say I've had writer's block for any extended period of time. Within a hour, I'm usually back into my 'fantasy' world.

But Timothy has a point. I know of some writers who fall into that 'trap' of revising as they go and barely progress in their story. I let my fingers fly and correct, edit and re-write later. I would get too frustrated in stopping and starting the flow.

A good tool I found online for a quick or first run through in editing is called "AutoCrit". It can help train an aspiring writer's eye to spot trouble and old pros to brush up on what they missed. Doesn't replace the age old, tried and true method of editing, but a helpful tool.

message 18: by Cerena (new)

Cerena Brown | 24 comments hi everyone

message 19: by Davina (last edited Jan 29, 2011 11:25AM) (new)

Davina D. | 4 comments I'm most creative when I'm relatively at peace with myself and my everyday life. If I'm stressed, worried or going through a depression, I can not find my inner muse. Usually because I can't stop thinking about my problems long enough to hear my creative voice.

So in order to be productive I need to find a place of inner serenity and in order to do that I have to do my best to keep negative outside influences that sap my joy for writing at bay.

message 20: by Davina (new)

Davina D. | 4 comments I have a tendency 'to edit on the go', but I agree that it can be a bad habit which prevents you from reaching the finish line (if you don't use it in a productive way like Tracey does). This has happened to me so many times so its something I'm working on. To quit the editing and just write until I'm finished.

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, Davina, did you read my blog?:) I did a two part, Jan 20 & 24, about editing as you go or free flow writing and some of the problem involved.


message 22: by Davina (new)

Davina D. | 4 comments Shawn, I haven't but I'll check it out. Thanks! :)

message 23: by Emily (new)

Emily (lafillebrigitte) usually I edit on the go for conventions and save the content and fluency editing for the end.

message 24: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) | 5 comments I write when I have an idea for a good story.
I edit as I go for grammar spelling etc but tweak contents and flow at end after the first draft is done.

message 25: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) | 5 comments John wrote: "Let discuss your creative process here, and yes, be as creative as you like...

What gets you in the mood to begin to create?"

a dream or idea which I bounce of friends and FB buddies. If it sounds like a possibility I start an outline.
sometimes I just start writing and see where it goes.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Sometimes there is something I throw back and forth in my mind and I twist it to how I want it, and I have an idea. The idea can come from my dreams too. Recently I was sitting at a table and I just got up, got some paper sat back down and I started writing a verse from what I thought would be a poem, then as I carried on, I changed it and is now a novel I am currently writing.

message 27: by Rachel (last edited Feb 24, 2011 08:34AM) (new)

Rachel (rachelkelman) | 19 comments I write whenever I can. I'm a busy woman so sometimes it's not easy to carve out time. My weekends are the most productive. If I'm not feeling so creative, reading tends to spur the creative juices. If I'm having trouble working something out in my head I revisit my outline. Sometimes I get stuck regardless, and while I do most of my writing solely on my laptop, there's something about picking up pen and paper that helps unjumble my mind.

message 28: by Bookrazy-Koi (new)

Bookrazy-Koi (Bookrazy) | 6 comments I'm pretty busy too but when I get the urge to write, i find a way to jot it down (if i can't get to my computer right away). Sometimes ideas just come flowing in when I least expect it so I make sure I carry a pen and paper with me all the time (yes, even during formal events...)

Other times I get inspired by a song, a show or a line on tv, journals or whatever hits me in the gut. When I write, i don't want to be encumbered by punctuations and technical stuff... I want to write freely without boundaries...that is why a proof-reader will have his/her work cut out for him/her! LOL

But I do try to edit as much as I can...

message 29: by M. Salahuddin (new)

M. Salahuddin (salagar08) | 23 comments I self-published SIKANDER ( in the middle of last year as my first foray into being an author. I have to say it positively erupted from me with a central or "apex" idea coming from a book/movie (Les Misérables) but highly adapted so a reader couldn't readily draw the connection. Its 586 pages were "written" in just about 6 weeks (requiring about another 10 weeks of editing by a pro-editor).

I'm sure that won't be repeatable but I did note some dynamics which seemed to work for me. One thing was that even though I didn't rigidly follow it, I did write a crude outline. The aspect of outlining that seemed to work best was that it created "turning points" in the story. It didn't seem to matter so much how the narrative wove through from one turning point to the next and that gave me latitude to let the characters do some heavy lifting by "telling" me what should happen or how they should react and as long as the aggregate narrative was headed to that next turning point we were all fine. I found that this approach allowed the characters to be very true to themselves and hopefully thereby, to be credible to readers.

Once the first pass was done, the next was to prune it for unwanted distractions but carefully, so as not to hack away at texture and backdrop.

In the end the story finished a little differently from the plan but not too much. Sort of like when the house that's actually built is always a little different from the architect's drawings.

Does anyone else approach it this way? I ask because I'm about to start the second book and would love to know if I'm simply reinventing a tried and tested methodology or have a perhaps less effective approach than other writers.

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