On Writing, Random Thoughts

Q&A With A Wordsmith: On The Artistic Process

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
What is your artistic process? Does anything impede that?

Answer:

My artistic process varies depending on what I set out to do. But mostly, it’s a delicate balance between ritual, creativity, and technical skill. 

First and foremost, however, I start with a ritual. Always beginning with coffee or another hot drink of choice. And while I’m firing up my machine to brew, I’ll start up my playlist to a section that best fits the task at hand.

With my steaming cup of goodness in hand, I sit down and just listen to the music for a few minutes. It’s almost like a meditation.

Once my mind is clear, it signifies that the creativity is ready to come out in full force. 

If I’m going to work on writing, I reread the last chapter I completed, much like hitting the rewind button on a movie for a quick recap. This helps me settle back into the story, and into my narrator’s head. 

Then, since I have the plot outlined — steps A-Z, beginning to end — I know where I need to go. And as I’m seeing the events unfolding like a movie, all I’m doing is transcribing everything I can.

My poetry and prose is somewhat similar, except I’m isolating events and packing as much emotion and life into the words as I can. 

If I’m editing, I still search for the right mindset of following along with a movie, because it’s important I don’t lose those critical attributes like pacing, but at the same time, I’m looking at the draft with a critical eye, zeroing in on plot holes,  continuity slip ups — like a character walking or standing still, or just issues with grammar and flow. 

However, I do want to note that when it comes to my fiction, I don’t mix writing with editing. If I’m working on the first draft of a manuscript, I won’t open a draft to start rereading or editing. I like to keep my concentration on one timeline so I don’t end up confusing things. 

Though I may switch to creating other things like book covers, or just stop altogether due to some other limitations, I try to give myself the flexibility to do so without berating myself or feeling like I’m neglecting anything.

The biggest impediments to my processes, however, is self-doubt. It could be that I’m going slower than usual because I can’t quite visualize something or transcribe it right, or I run into a wall where I begin to question a decision or an action. And then intrusive thoughts start to pop up like weeds in a garden. 

That’s a terrible idea. No one’s going to like that. 

Or: You might as well stop now, that thing is dead weight and you know it. 

I often have to remind myself that hiccups do happen and that whatever the problem is, I’ll find a way to fix it. 

If I let those overgrown thoughts blossom in that garden, it’ll take me that much longer to clean things up, stop beating myself up, and get back to what matters. 


Coming up, I’ll discuss how long I spend writing on a day and walk you through my writing day routine. 

Until next time,
Sarah

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18 thoughts on “Q&A With A Wordsmith: On The Artistic Process”

  1. Not too long ago, I’ve discovered that if my head is not ready to write but I think I should, or I want to, I lie down for a few minutes. It helps me clear my head, sort my thoughts and come up with some fresh ideas and motivation. I think I will write that into my writing routine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you. I’ve read many times that “butt in chair” as the first step of writing is important. If you sit and follow the same general routine, your mind will settle into it, making those sessions more productive.

      Like

  2. I have tried the outline as a tight template, a loose template and then gave up. Unless I am writing to task or purpose (read that as $) I can’t do it. One of those best laid plans of mice and men things. I have a couple of characters show up and they’re talking about robbing a bank in the middle of nowhere, only it’s not what it seems. Great. Off we go. I get retentive in the editing phase, though. In draft mode slop happens getting it out. Ordinarily the sticky time line things tend to work themselves out without me because events and situations will fall out of the sky and onto the page. I keep up, sweep up. Like Louis L’Amour said to his daughter “I’m typing fast because I want to see what happens.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And that makes perfect sense. I used to approach my manuscripts that way. I often found myself lost and couldn’t seem to find out where I went wrong. I know everyone is different in their processes, and I don’t begrudge you for that preference. I admire the pantsing approach, even if I can’t do it myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here! A certain percentage of my story is planned out. Like, I knew that I wanted my two main couples to get married on the same day. I knew that a certain building had to burn down.

        But the remaining percentage of my story is my characters doing the darndest but most in-character things that still somehow feel like I’d planned it all out that way.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “…darndest but most in-character things that still somehow feel like I’d planned it all out that way.” Yes. Premise first and turn them loose. They come up with sub or side plot, backstory, stuff I’d never consciously think of. My job in draft is to keep them from getting too far off into the weeds.

        Liked by 2 people

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