This was particularly interesting to me, because I'm beginning a new book. This will be the fifth book I've begun, and hopefully the third that I will finish. (One of the two that I didn't finish took six years out of my life and I thought it might kill me, but in spite of the distress that came with that, what the song says is true: whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.) My two finished books are mystery/suspense, a genre I love. This new one, honest to God, I just don't know. All I know is I'm going to write it.
This not-knowing leaves me with one thing to hang on to (besides just letting the ideas flow): process. Establishing a habit to make sure something happens on the page, not just in my head.
So this morning, what I want to ask you is, what is your writing process when you are starting a new novel? Is it highly structured and thought out ahead of time? Is it the opposite?
To start us off, here's mine:
- each morning I meditate for 15-30 minutes: an active form of meditation in which I ask questions and get answers (often unexpected, out of the blue answers)—for my story. So far, I have had shocking glimpses into my protagonist's character and her backstory; insights into secondary and tertiary characters who I didn't even have on my radar screen, let alone in my sights; and a few plot developments that add grounding and twists and give me some direction as to how this story might develop.
- I scramble into the kitchen where I have my pad and pen on the island and furiously write these ideas down longhand, and then have a much-needed cup of coffee—which I hold in my left hand because I have writer's cramp in my right one.
- then back to the living room and play the piano (badly) for 20-30 minutes. Something about that gives me unmatchable pleasure and completes the process for that morning
What is the start-up of a new book like for you? Do you follow the same process each time, or no?