Sunday afternoon thoughts on process

I sometimes think the longer I write, the messier my writing process gets–and it was never neat and pretty to begin with.

But it’s like this: to really start writing, I need to get the clay on the wheel–to get that awful rough draft so that I have something to work with. An outline isn’t clay on the wheel for me; it’s a dispassionate description of the properties of clay, of how clay works and what shapes it’s capable of taking on, all written at a remove, in some neat ordered room where my hands are clean, nowhere near clay or wheel. That description might tell me what a pot looks like, but not what it feels like, and until I know what it feels like, I don’t know what it is I really want to do–what the shape of the thing is, who the characters really are, where they want to move things.

I’m sure there are people who can make lovely pots by working out a detailed plan before they ever get their hands dirty. They probably bake without spattering flour all over their clothing, too. But that usually doesn’t work for me. I can write a decent plan if someone asks for one, of course–if it’s required for marketing purposes, say–but that doesn’t speed up or aid my writing process; it slows it down.

Because the plan doesn’t tell me anything about anything that matters. For me it’s the act of sitting down and writing that does that.

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