Have you ever taken a moment to think about how weird the writing process can be?
When it’s done well, the end result can be characters and settings that were so well-developed it’s hard to remember they don’t actually exist in our world.
That in an of itself is just a little strange (in a delightful sort of way) if I spend too much time pondering it, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg once one digs their way into the process of writing itself.
I know some of my readers are fellow writers, so you’re probably going to be familiar with at least some of what I’m about to say.
Googling Bizarre Things
That is to say, topics that aren’t actually connected to my daily life whatsoever.
I’m not pregnant or planning to adopt, but I still spend an inordinate amount of time on baby naming websites.
I have no interest in being one of the first humans to live on Mars or any other non-Earth destination, but I read every scrap of information I can find about space travel and what humans can realistically expect to happen when humans start sending people to Mars or the Moon to establish permanent or temporary homes there. This includes everything from how they’ll dispose of human waste to possible burial practices when someone dies during one of these missions to what the dust on other planets might smell like.
These are two of the tamer things I’ve searched for online. Here’s hoping no one looks through my other searches and assumes that all or any of them are based on what my actual plans are for the near future.
Some people might eavesdrop for juicy gossip or to learn things that they know others wouldn’t want them to hear.
I’m not one of them.
When I overhear other people’s conversations, my brain immediately jumps into dialogue mode.
How are their sentences structured? Which dialect(s) are they using? How often do the speakers interrupt each other, if ever? Do they stick to one topic or jump around?
Only then do I think about what they’re actually saying. Some people reveal a great deal about their lives from the conversations they have in public, while others remain closed books at least in the short amount of time I spend listening to their portions of the conversation.
Gaining Unusual Knowledge
The upside of all of this research is that I’ve studied all sorts of topics that most people with similar backgrounds probably wouldn’t know.
For example, I can tell you what the odds are of surviving the various types of smallpox even though that disease was eradicated years before I was born.
I also know what cyanide tastes like, how to cauterize a wound, and a few different methods to cure the hides of large animals after a big hunt.
(Here’s hoping this blog post won’t get me put on any watchlists. Ha!)
Talking to Characters
There’s something about talking to your characters that makes it easier to iron out plans for plot twists or future character development in my experience.
Yes, sometimes I even talk to my characters out loud and wait for a response. No, I don’t expect them to literally respond.
It’s simply a way to sort out my thoughts and figure out which ideas, if any, actually fit that particular character at that particular moment in their life.
A moment of silence helps me figure out where to go next. Does idea X or Y makes more sense? Or maybe I should try idea Z first even though it’s newer and needs more development?
Forgetting to Eat
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I’m writing that I forget what time it is.
This includes the typical times of day when I have my next meal.
There’s something about getting that next scene sketched out or blog post written that makes it easy to lose track of time like that.
Who wants to stop writing in that moment? Certainly not me!
Although my growling stomach eventually reminds me that writers aren’t machines and it’s time to stop and grab a plate of something.
Taking Breaks Feels Bizarre
Last month I took a two week break from any sort of writing at all.
It was weird to spend those days doing things that were in no way to related to any step of the writing process, but ultimately I know how important it is to step away from a project and let one’s mind rest for a while.
This technique also works for much shorter breaks. Sometimes I’ll go take a walk when I’m struggling with how to phrase a particular blog post or passage in one of my stories. There’s something about stepping away from the issue that makes it much easier to resolve when walk or vacation time ends.
Don’t let this section make you assume that I write thousands of words every single day. My output does vary from one day to the next, but not having any of it at all is something I need to adjust to every time another break come up again.
Fellow writers, what would you add to this list?