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Creative Writing Process

The creative writing process is not something I worry about much anymore, although my prior fixation with it used to torment me. Other people were the "real writers," while I could only piece together a story by luck, and even then the result wasn’t a "real story" but only a poor version of what I had hoped to accomplish.

When I finished my first novel, I felt such overwhelming relief that I broke into tears, amazed that the book finally had a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Beginnings were, and are, no problem for me. I used to start a story twenty different ways, and I'd still get lost toward the middle. I won't even discuss endings at the moment, except to say that a good ending is no easy feat and still gives me grief.

Combine the difficulty of writing a complete story with the fact that many people can dash off a rough draft of a novel in a few weeks or months, and you may understand why the whole process left me feeling more than a little inadequate. But those quick drafts are no more ready for publication than my partial ones, and I've noticed that writers tend to be either wizards or fiddlers.


creative writing process

The word wizards get a first draft out quickly, but they agonize over the necessary revisions. The fiddlers agonize over the first draft but can polish and buff a text until it is a thing of beauty. I've also heard of writers who enjoy the whole writing process with no agonizing whatsoever. Most of them bring to mind the words of Samuel Johnson: What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure. The rest cause me to feel as I do upon hearing that someone else won the $20 million lottery.

I now understand that the writing process is personal. Real writers write, and they don't give up until they succeed. It does no good to worry about the progress of others. We all proceed at our own pace, and if someone else writes better, she may be more talented, or she may only have learned more or practiced more. Either way, it’s her writing process. Ours is as we make it—tortuous or not.

I've made a decision not to agonize anymore. Every story, and every book, develops from scenes placed in order according to cause and effect. When I write enough strong scenes and place them in the right order, a book is born. I focus on creating one scene at a time, without worrying about anything but that one scene, which makes writing more enjoyable, and often a pleasure, as it is difficult to feel overwhelmed by a single scene. Good writing will always require work, discipline, and perseverance, but it needn't be an act of forbearance.

Plan as best you can, but have faith in your subconscious ability to create order out of chaos, and something out of nothing. Read, observe, think, write, revise. Focus on the scene at hand, and a story will emerge.

  1. An Interview with Christina Katz about How to Get Known
  2. An Interview with Lorian Hemingway about the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition
  3. Becoming a Writer
  4. Book Writing Tips for Career Writers
  5. Creative Writing Ideas
  6. Creative Writing Jobs
  7. Creative Writing Scholarships
  8. Creative Writing Submissions: Submission Etiquette
  9. Creative Writing Skill: Three Ways to Develop Yours
  10. Creative Writing Tips—Editing Checklist
  11. Fiction Writing Software
  12. Get Paid to Write
  13. Getting Published
  14. Guide to Literary Agents
  15. How to Format a Novel Synopsis
  16. How to Publish a Book
  17. How to Publish Short Stories and Other Fiction
  18. How to Write a Novel Synopsis
  19. Professional Manuscript Format
  20. Story Starters
  21. The Creative Writing Masters Degree: How Important Is It?
  22. What is a Novel?
  23. What is a Short Story?
  24. What is Creative Writing? Three Vignettes by Katherine J. Barrett
  25. Why a Writing Platform is a Must, and 13 Ways to Build Yours
  26. Writers Block
  27. Writing a first draft
  28. Writing Goals
  29. Writing Log
  30. Writing Novels & Editing Novels: Two Different Skills
  31. Writing Revisions: When to Tackle Them
  32. Writing Truth or Fiction: Nothing Is as It Seems
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