- STAGE ONE: Idea. Somewhere, I get an idea. Sometimes it's an image, like a scene from a movie in my mind. Sometimes it's just a really cool bit of dialog. Or, I'll watch TV or listen to the radio and hear a story--fiction or news--and think "what if...?" and add a different twist to it. Either way, the idea is planted.
- STAGE TWO: Fermenting the Idea. I get lots of these ideas. I've been known to have character dialog re-enactments in my car on my way to work. Often, as soon as I've thought of the idea, it's gone. I don't think about it again. But sometimes, it doesn't go. I'll find myself re-thinking of the character or scene or what-if plot, and in my head I start fitting the pieces together, like a detective on CSI.
- STAGE THREE: Casual Notes. I write out the scene that gave me the original idea. I might go on Wikipedia and look up some detail. If there's a show on TV about the idea's subject, I watch it. I'm not doing anything serious, just surrounding myself with the idea.
- STAGE FOUR: Chapter One. I write a full scene, sometimes Chapters One and Two. Often, this is just a page or two--but never more than 10 or 15. I sit back. I tell myself that I am brilliant. This is the best writing I've ever done, and I will become more famous and well loved that JK Rowling and Stephenie Myers combined.
- STAGE FIVE: Abandonment. I completely drop the project. Sometimes for months. Sometimes, I never go back to it.
- STAGE SIX: Panic. Eventually, I get to the point where I realize that I don't have any more ideas. I want to write, but what to write? Then I remember that story I abandoned...
- STAGE SEVEN: Frustration. It's been months in returning to the original story idea. Things have changed. It's not as good. The magic isn't there. This stage lasts for up to several weeks. I cuss at the computer. I spend more time on blogs. I clean the house a lot.
- STAGE EIGHT: Recognition of my Brilliance. Something happens--an idea, a suggestion from a crit reader, something...and I've got the story again. I hold tight. I usually write in flurries here, and usually get at least to the first fifty pages. I re-read these pages often, remarking to myself upon my own brilliance. I make the husband take me out to dinner. I am often giddy. House cleaning happens not at all.
- STAGE NINE: Distraction. By this point, I've got a clear idea of the story...and I'm starting to get a bit bored with it. Oh, look, something shiny! *dashes off in distraction*
So, how about you? What's your writing process like?