In answer to everyone who has ever looked at me and said; “I just don’t see how you do it.”
It never starts with a blank page so let’s go ahead and toss that myth out the window. The blank page comes later, and it never stays blank for long because the moment pen meets paper or fingers meet keyboard things start to happen.
There is a second as the writer’s brain gropes for the correct words where the undisturbed white of pen or screen is daunting, but eventually that right word, phrase, character or situation snaps into being and the story begins. Unless, of course, said writer gives up and walks away.
Maybe they walk away for a day, maybe forever.
It seems important to note that the one who comes back, the one who braves the glaring white of the unmarred page, is the real writer. The one who never comes back … well … Enough said there.
But none of that really matters because this isn’t where the story starts.
The story started ages ago with a flicker of an idea, a foggy dream barely remembered, or the name of a character who simply will not go away. That’s the beginning of the creation process, the start of a new, grand tale. It could be months or years before the story is physically written, but it is constantly being cultivated in the back of the mind.
Notebooks or 3×5 cards or little documents are made with character thoughts, plot suggestions, and mental images that capture the mood of the story. These are all compiled, stored away for the moment when we finally find ourselves ready to take the plunge and begin writing.
Maybe there’s an outline. Maybe there’s just a character with a problem.
The creation phase for any book is beautiful and fragile and unpredictable. Most of us bemoan the drafts that come after, the editing and the synopsis and the querying and everything that has become synonymous with novel-writing, but the beginnings of a new story …
That we seem to treasure.