(Sorry for the delay in getting this out–excuses don’t work anymore, so I won’t give any. Here I am just to spout off again, though, so enjoy.)
I create the story out of simple inspiration, and free write until it scares me that I won’t ever have a true plot point to follow. I decide to jot down an outline, loosely describing for myself the stages the story will progress through. So, what’s next?
I’ve spent a good deal of time to this point thinking of the purpose for the actions of characters, and envisioning them. I’ve become good friends with them: they yell at me often. Once I hit that prior stage of outlining, it’s impressed upon me that I need to finish this work, and so begins the manic writing phase.
With the guidance of the few notes I’ve jotted down, I write almost as freely as I did before, but pauses don’t exist. Deviations do not happen. It is almost like I am on a drug and I need to keep writing to keep the high moving. Unlike the initial writing phase, the “good” or “bad” writing actually matters to me as the story has become complex enough to need to make sense. I am usually up late at night, typing in darkness, listening to some inspirational music, reciting the words as they’re typed out on the screen. Sleep is secondary. My mind is consumed now with where my characters are going. Before, the visions inspired the text. Now, the text inspires the vision. The movie is in my head. The dialogue pops out, the voices are loud and clear, and I feel the adrenaline rush in this stage more than ever before.
I put so much energy into it. I want to talk about it, describe the feelings I am having, but people don’t get it. Part of me doesn’t blame them for this. Part of me does. The passion I pour into the story starts driving me. Nothing else matters. I see an end point that I need to reach, and I need to do it fast.
When I finally come to the conclusive point, I’m emotionally exhausted and sad. I do cry. I do reread the last few pages. I actually type: The End. I let the grief of letting go take over me, and I reluctantly close the document and stand up from the computer. My mind is still engaged in the world on the paper. I haven’t spent many hours away from it, and I miss it like one does an old home. My characters don’t speak to me now. They’re quiet. Not dead, just quiet. They’ve moved elsewhere for a moment, and the lonely feeling overcomes that manic high I was living on just moments before.
Because I’m me (and thus, never shut up and keep going and going and going…), despite the ending of one particular work, the story never ends. I love my characters so much that I know there are further stories to tell, and that I want to tell them. This is why I’ve rarely wrote a standalone work. It’s why I love movies that end up with sequels, and I tend to like spin-offs of tv shows. I enjoy the possibility of different stories, different perspectives, further interaction (even if different) with characters I’ve come to care about. And another part that makes me who I am is that my mind is apt to change, so often my motivation for keeping a story singular ends up with a trilogy simply because I shifted the storyline from one character to another.
Sometimes, I take a break between writing. Sometimes, eager to keep that high, I write for another week or two on a sequel (or prequel), and coast on being stuck in the world before it leaves me. Often, though, I let it sit. I read. I let a bit of a mourning period go on, and then I start all over. Loving a new time period, engaging in the life of new characters, and spinning around some new ideas in this overactive brain of mine.
Heck, writing this may have confused you more than explaining my process, and perhaps it makes no sense. But, it follow the route I tend to take, and may explain the choices I’ve made in life and the paths I’ve taken as a writer.