Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Intentions and Process

One of the commenters here (I'm sorry, I can't find you, but thank you!) referred me to The Secret a couple months back. I never got around to watching it (meant to!), but then I picked up The Secret book.

The Secret, summarized, is that what we think and intend creates our own experience.

What does that have to do with writing?

I've mentioned that lately, it seems like the whole blogosphere has been writing posts for me, on exactly the issues I'm struggling with that day. (I know, of course, that they don't even know I exist, LOL! It's just that uncanny sort of coincidence that makes you start to feel like the world can read your mind.)

For example, I'm struggling with a plot issue in the Big N. I came home from writing and what do you think I found?

Over at Murderati, Paul Guyot talked about his process in tackling his first novel. After a great post, a great discussion in the comments sections ensued, including a fascinating comment by Barry Eisler on his process for his first novel, Rain Fall, and a very helpful one (which I'm going to try in an hour) by Mark Terry.

My process tends to change a bit with each novella. (I just kick out stories. No process in them.) With this novel? I have no idea. I waffle between psyched and terror in the pit of my stomach (I'm not kidding!).

Most of my terror stems from the fear I can't finish it. So I decided to go the intention route: I know my ending, so I'm going to write the ending. After all, if I write the ending, it will make real my intention to finish this thing, right?

I'll just look that fear right in the face and smash it. Maybe then I can write the novel in peace, LOL.

And maybe the universe will lend a helping hand again.

I'm endlessly fascinated with other writers' processes. What are yours? Have you ever tried the 'ending first' method?

(Funny enough, Avery DeBow wrote about endings while I was posting this!)

11 bonus scribbles:

Kristin Dodge 1/16/2007 09:57:00 PM  

I wrote the ending of my story first. It gave me a guideline... I knew where they would end up.

With my screenplay, though, I knew the first two acts, but not the third. Meh. Every endeavour is different.

Liz Wolfe 1/16/2007 11:39:00 PM  

I gotta agree with Kristin. Sometimes the book stems from the ending for me, other times, I'm almost at the end before I really see the ending. They are all different.
I understand the fascination with writers' processes.

Edie 1/17/2007 12:05:00 AM  

Spy, I usually know the ending--although not in detail. I don't write it out, but knowing it I can gear my story toward it.

For each book I write, I use a different process. This last one I pantsed most of the way through, more than any other. It's also the book I'll have to cut and revise more than any other. The next one I'll plot more and hope that works. One of these days I'll find "the way".

Good luck with your book!

StarvingWriteNow 1/17/2007 08:04:00 AM  

Okay, you're allowed ONE self-help book. ONLY ONE.

I find my work "works" better if I have an outline. Sometimes I'll write a one or two sentence summary of a chapter. "Begins with..." this action or scene, to "Ends with..." this action or scene.

Of course, when you decide to rewrite, everything goes to heck and you have to start all over, but as per my New Year's Resolution, que sera sera!

Have a lovely one!

Bernita 1/17/2007 08:31:00 AM  

Not the ending, no. But I habitually write scenes out of sequence.
I believe in writing them down when they are red hot.

spyscribbler 1/17/2007 08:46:00 AM  

Wow, Kristin and Liz. That's cool. This is definitely a first for me.

Edie, I hear that! I tend not to do much by the way of cutting, but every novella seems to be a different process. Pantsing is fun when it flows!

spyscribbler 1/17/2007 08:47:00 AM  

LOLOL, starvingwritenow ... just one?? If you only knew, if you only knew!

Bernita, I'm most like you. I start in order, but then I have to jump forward here and there when scenes occur to me. Helps keep a block at bay! Although I hate when I have to go back and "fill in" stuff.

Avery DeBow 1/17/2007 10:33:00 AM  

I have to know where I'm going every step of the way. I need a full outline (in the form of ordered index cards with ideas jotted on them) before I can begin with my chapters. Now and then I'll have an idea for a scene before I've outlined and will write it out, but I've yet to have one transition to the final story. Even with the problems with my ending, I know what events must happen -- I just don't know how to make them happen.

When I start writing, it's chapter one, followed by chapter two, all the way to the end. There's no jumping ahead. It really is a rigid little world I've made for myself, but it seems to be the only way I can function. :)

Because of my above issues, there's no way I could write the end first. I think I'd have some sort of total system failure.

spyscribbler 1/17/2007 01:05:00 PM  

Total system failure--LOLOL, I like that. I can hear the computer bleeping at me with that blue screen. :-) I think the best creativity is inspired by rigidity.

There's an awesome program (free trial forever, unlimited) that I tried your method with, once: SuperNotecard. Pretty cool. Simple and perfect.

Karen Olson 1/17/2007 04:41:00 PM  

I never know the ending when I start. I figure out what the ending will be about halfway, three quarters of the way through the book.

I had to write a proposal for this fourth book I'm working on. And I had to come up with an ending. I've already deviated from the proposal, at page 50, so I'm not sure it's going to end the way I "planned." But I think it works better that way for me.

spyscribbler 1/17/2007 05:00:00 PM  

Hi Karen! Whatever works best, is what's best. By the way, I'm terrified of proposals. Good luck with the fourth book, Karen!