Gifts of the Muse

Charliegrape
Jo here. I’m going to talk about the writing process for a change. (Charlie lurking amid tiny grapes that will one day swell and make wine is vaguely appropriate.)

The creative process is not something I blog about a lot because I don’t often analyze it, and most of the time it fits with the catch phrase in Shakespeare In Love — "It’s a mystery."

The other day I was trying to think back to the days before I seriously tried to write a book to recall how I thought authors created one. I’m not sure I ever thought about it at all, but I probably assumed the writers were in control and knew exactly what they were doing. Perhaps I assumed it was like knitting a cardigan — something I have never done, note! Tumbling_blocks_2
(This picture of a cardigan in the tumbling blocks quilting motif almost makes me want to try. Almost. If you’re braver, the pattern is here. )

Perhaps I thought a novelist would follow the pattern, put in enough hours, and a book would come into existence. Whether it’s a good book/cardigan or a terrible one would depend on both materials and skill.

As I’ve never met an author in calm control of the creative process, I’m sure I would have been wrong.

But I toss out my first question. If you’re a reader-only — ie you’ve never tried to write a book — what thoughts do you have about how novels come to be? If you’ve learned a lot recently from blogs such as this, can you remember what you thought before?

The second question is, does it matter to the reader how the author creates a book? If you knew an author neatly outlined her novel and then wrote for a disciplined number of hours a day, would you expect a better book, or wouldn’t it matter? What about an author who plunges into the mist every day, hoping to find the next bit of her story? Or the one who works in mad bursts then lurches around in writer’s block, trying to find something to add. There are writers who are extremely fast, and sometimes people will say that they can’t produce a good book. But is being very slow at a job a sign of talent?

Just some things to chew on.

I’m a fly-into-the-mist writer, and though I sometimes have vague ideas of what is to come, or at least a couple of elements I dearly hope will be part of the novel, when I start a new one nothing is certain. Nothing at all. It would be much less stressful otherwise, but we writers don’t seem to have a lot of choice.

I do however, get gifts, as I’m sure all writers do, and I choose to think of them as gifts from my muse. Occasionally they are strong story ideas, or large chunks of books, but sometimes they are vignettes. They’re not to be sniffed at, however, and two have formed the starting point for my current works.

The first was a scene in a coaching inn where a gentleman overhears a lady swearing. A lady, note. He is suitable shocked, but also intrigued. As she seems upset, he approaches her, intending to help. He was a sober sort of gentleman, about to be caught up in trouble. This was a regency setting and the lady was probably a governess.

I’m not sure I’ve ever done a meeting-at-an-inn story, so it interested me and I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a good storyline that might grow from this. I fly into the mist, but I’ll take a map if I can and it felt as if I maybe could.

That, of course, was folly. I never can. When I ended up with a convoluted story about an heiress escaping guardians who were spending all her money on charitable acts, and I was trying to plot a route to somewhere useful that would take them through wilderness in Regency England, I knew I, not they, was up a swampy creek to nowhere.

But all that wild invention was probably necessary to prime the pump for the real story, which was suddenly there — the beginning at least. A Georgian rake encountering a swearing nun in Northern France, and them setting off together into a wild adventure of murder and mayhem, must of which I had no clue about until it happened.

Alsfredge
That’s A Lady’s Secret, out in a few weeks. If you like excerpts, I’ve just put up a second one here.

If you missed the first excerpt, you should read that first. It’s here.

But the muse was generous over the past couple of years, and somewhere along the line she tossed me a scene. Not an idea of a scene like the coaching one, which I could play with in my mind, but a "write me now!" scene, complete with talons and teeth.

Hastily, I did so, wondering what I was supposed to do with it. A young officer — very young, a teenager, still full of ideals — dashes to an inn to prevent a fellow officer from seducing an innocent young lady. He doesn’t know the girl, only that she shouldn’t be ruined by a scoundrel.

At the inn the hot-headed seducer draws his sword and in the chaotic fight our young idealist kills the rotter. Enter inn servants crying murder, and shortly afterward the girl’s relative, who insists that as our hero has killed the man who should have done right by her niece, he must marry her. When it seems to be that or the noose, he agrees, then rides off to war, swearing off noble gestures for life.

As I said, I wrote the scene, parked it on my disk, and thought that maybe, sometime, I’d think what to do with it. It didn’t quite feel like my sort of story (which may seem nonsensical, but there you are) and it also didn’t fit with the "worlds" I am writing in — the Rogues World and the Malloren World.

But in writing A Lady’s Secret I saw where my story vignette could indeed fit into the new mini-world I was creating there. I didn’t plan it; it wasn’t on my mind; it was simply a moment of saying, "Oh." Then, "So that’s what you were doing, muse." But I still had no idea of some delightful ramifications that are being revealed as I write.

And now I’m waiting and hoping for another scene — any type will do — that will grow into the third story, because the first two have proved to be a great deal of fun.

So that’s about what you get when I talk about the creative process. For those of you here who are writers, is this any use at all? For you readers, is this interesting or just confusing? And don’t forget the questions above.

What should the reader/author interface be like? Does it matter?

And if this seems a bit rambling I’m just recovering from bronchitis and a cold and I don’t think my brain’s had adequate oxygen for at least a week! Oh, yes, I should mention that Lovers and Ladies will be out inLlfront
April, too. I keep forgetting it. Isn’t that awful? Especially when it contains two of my early inspirations. There are excerpts of those stories up, too. Check out more here.

Cheers,

Jo

125 thoughts on “Gifts of the Muse”

  1. Wow! I always thought writers thought up a story, from beginning to end, and then wrote it down, with some polishing of vocabulary and grammer. Sort of the way we had to do term papers. I always assumed you knew who the characters were, what they would do, and how it would all end before you even began. That is one reason I have never even tried to write a story- of course now that I have been following this blog, I realize how wrong I was- but I still am too intimidated by your colllective talents to ever try to follodw in your footsteps. I shal just remain an awestruck and appreciative reader.

    Reply
  2. Wow! I always thought writers thought up a story, from beginning to end, and then wrote it down, with some polishing of vocabulary and grammer. Sort of the way we had to do term papers. I always assumed you knew who the characters were, what they would do, and how it would all end before you even began. That is one reason I have never even tried to write a story- of course now that I have been following this blog, I realize how wrong I was- but I still am too intimidated by your colllective talents to ever try to follodw in your footsteps. I shal just remain an awestruck and appreciative reader.

    Reply
  3. Wow! I always thought writers thought up a story, from beginning to end, and then wrote it down, with some polishing of vocabulary and grammer. Sort of the way we had to do term papers. I always assumed you knew who the characters were, what they would do, and how it would all end before you even began. That is one reason I have never even tried to write a story- of course now that I have been following this blog, I realize how wrong I was- but I still am too intimidated by your colllective talents to ever try to follodw in your footsteps. I shal just remain an awestruck and appreciative reader.

    Reply
  4. Wow! I always thought writers thought up a story, from beginning to end, and then wrote it down, with some polishing of vocabulary and grammer. Sort of the way we had to do term papers. I always assumed you knew who the characters were, what they would do, and how it would all end before you even began. That is one reason I have never even tried to write a story- of course now that I have been following this blog, I realize how wrong I was- but I still am too intimidated by your colllective talents to ever try to follodw in your footsteps. I shal just remain an awestruck and appreciative reader.

    Reply
  5. Wow! I always thought writers thought up a story, from beginning to end, and then wrote it down, with some polishing of vocabulary and grammer. Sort of the way we had to do term papers. I always assumed you knew who the characters were, what they would do, and how it would all end before you even began. That is one reason I have never even tried to write a story- of course now that I have been following this blog, I realize how wrong I was- but I still am too intimidated by your colllective talents to ever try to follodw in your footsteps. I shal just remain an awestruck and appreciative reader.

    Reply
  6. Can I tell you how reassuring it is to hear that I’m not the only one with a hard drive full of odds and ends? LOL! I get “scenes” all the time and I have to write them as they come, but often I have no idea what they’re for . . . sometimes they turn into something, sometimes they just seem to linger on and on. I’m hoping they’re “maturing”, like fine wine, and will someday be useful.

    Reply
  7. Can I tell you how reassuring it is to hear that I’m not the only one with a hard drive full of odds and ends? LOL! I get “scenes” all the time and I have to write them as they come, but often I have no idea what they’re for . . . sometimes they turn into something, sometimes they just seem to linger on and on. I’m hoping they’re “maturing”, like fine wine, and will someday be useful.

    Reply
  8. Can I tell you how reassuring it is to hear that I’m not the only one with a hard drive full of odds and ends? LOL! I get “scenes” all the time and I have to write them as they come, but often I have no idea what they’re for . . . sometimes they turn into something, sometimes they just seem to linger on and on. I’m hoping they’re “maturing”, like fine wine, and will someday be useful.

    Reply
  9. Can I tell you how reassuring it is to hear that I’m not the only one with a hard drive full of odds and ends? LOL! I get “scenes” all the time and I have to write them as they come, but often I have no idea what they’re for . . . sometimes they turn into something, sometimes they just seem to linger on and on. I’m hoping they’re “maturing”, like fine wine, and will someday be useful.

    Reply
  10. Can I tell you how reassuring it is to hear that I’m not the only one with a hard drive full of odds and ends? LOL! I get “scenes” all the time and I have to write them as they come, but often I have no idea what they’re for . . . sometimes they turn into something, sometimes they just seem to linger on and on. I’m hoping they’re “maturing”, like fine wine, and will someday be useful.

    Reply
  11. “does it matter to the reader how the author creates a book?”
    It generally doesn’t matter to me, but occasionally an author can give TMI on her writing process. The effect can be rather like a party hostess confessing that she’s tired and wishes everyone would just go home, or an artist saying the painting you’ve just bought is her least favorite.
    That’s not to say author blogs have to be *happy!!!* all the time. But it’s one thing to convey struggling with a manuscript, and another to come across as hating every moment of it.
    But then, I tend not to read personal “journal” type blogs; I don’t want to see that far inside anyone’s head! One (non-romance) author’s blog is a non-stop moan about having to slog through her writing. I find it painful to read because it’s all about page count–day after day her blog reads like “Two pages today, and they were sooo painful”). On the other hand, I enjoy author blogs about inspiration or research or character development. Those are topics I enjoy thinking and learning about, and I love hearing about others’ research.

    Reply
  12. “does it matter to the reader how the author creates a book?”
    It generally doesn’t matter to me, but occasionally an author can give TMI on her writing process. The effect can be rather like a party hostess confessing that she’s tired and wishes everyone would just go home, or an artist saying the painting you’ve just bought is her least favorite.
    That’s not to say author blogs have to be *happy!!!* all the time. But it’s one thing to convey struggling with a manuscript, and another to come across as hating every moment of it.
    But then, I tend not to read personal “journal” type blogs; I don’t want to see that far inside anyone’s head! One (non-romance) author’s blog is a non-stop moan about having to slog through her writing. I find it painful to read because it’s all about page count–day after day her blog reads like “Two pages today, and they were sooo painful”). On the other hand, I enjoy author blogs about inspiration or research or character development. Those are topics I enjoy thinking and learning about, and I love hearing about others’ research.

    Reply
  13. “does it matter to the reader how the author creates a book?”
    It generally doesn’t matter to me, but occasionally an author can give TMI on her writing process. The effect can be rather like a party hostess confessing that she’s tired and wishes everyone would just go home, or an artist saying the painting you’ve just bought is her least favorite.
    That’s not to say author blogs have to be *happy!!!* all the time. But it’s one thing to convey struggling with a manuscript, and another to come across as hating every moment of it.
    But then, I tend not to read personal “journal” type blogs; I don’t want to see that far inside anyone’s head! One (non-romance) author’s blog is a non-stop moan about having to slog through her writing. I find it painful to read because it’s all about page count–day after day her blog reads like “Two pages today, and they were sooo painful”). On the other hand, I enjoy author blogs about inspiration or research or character development. Those are topics I enjoy thinking and learning about, and I love hearing about others’ research.

    Reply
  14. “does it matter to the reader how the author creates a book?”
    It generally doesn’t matter to me, but occasionally an author can give TMI on her writing process. The effect can be rather like a party hostess confessing that she’s tired and wishes everyone would just go home, or an artist saying the painting you’ve just bought is her least favorite.
    That’s not to say author blogs have to be *happy!!!* all the time. But it’s one thing to convey struggling with a manuscript, and another to come across as hating every moment of it.
    But then, I tend not to read personal “journal” type blogs; I don’t want to see that far inside anyone’s head! One (non-romance) author’s blog is a non-stop moan about having to slog through her writing. I find it painful to read because it’s all about page count–day after day her blog reads like “Two pages today, and they were sooo painful”). On the other hand, I enjoy author blogs about inspiration or research or character development. Those are topics I enjoy thinking and learning about, and I love hearing about others’ research.

    Reply
  15. “does it matter to the reader how the author creates a book?”
    It generally doesn’t matter to me, but occasionally an author can give TMI on her writing process. The effect can be rather like a party hostess confessing that she’s tired and wishes everyone would just go home, or an artist saying the painting you’ve just bought is her least favorite.
    That’s not to say author blogs have to be *happy!!!* all the time. But it’s one thing to convey struggling with a manuscript, and another to come across as hating every moment of it.
    But then, I tend not to read personal “journal” type blogs; I don’t want to see that far inside anyone’s head! One (non-romance) author’s blog is a non-stop moan about having to slog through her writing. I find it painful to read because it’s all about page count–day after day her blog reads like “Two pages today, and they were sooo painful”). On the other hand, I enjoy author blogs about inspiration or research or character development. Those are topics I enjoy thinking and learning about, and I love hearing about others’ research.

    Reply
  16. I find it funny that you say you don’t often analyze the creative process. While I’ve never seen you speak in person, I have listened to the mp3 files of workshops you’ve given at RWA national, and I find what you have to say to be very unique and insightful. I’m glad you take the occasional moment to think about the process.

    Reply
  17. I find it funny that you say you don’t often analyze the creative process. While I’ve never seen you speak in person, I have listened to the mp3 files of workshops you’ve given at RWA national, and I find what you have to say to be very unique and insightful. I’m glad you take the occasional moment to think about the process.

    Reply
  18. I find it funny that you say you don’t often analyze the creative process. While I’ve never seen you speak in person, I have listened to the mp3 files of workshops you’ve given at RWA national, and I find what you have to say to be very unique and insightful. I’m glad you take the occasional moment to think about the process.

    Reply
  19. I find it funny that you say you don’t often analyze the creative process. While I’ve never seen you speak in person, I have listened to the mp3 files of workshops you’ve given at RWA national, and I find what you have to say to be very unique and insightful. I’m glad you take the occasional moment to think about the process.

    Reply
  20. I find it funny that you say you don’t often analyze the creative process. While I’ve never seen you speak in person, I have listened to the mp3 files of workshops you’ve given at RWA national, and I find what you have to say to be very unique and insightful. I’m glad you take the occasional moment to think about the process.

    Reply
  21. I have no clue how authors write what they do; all I know is that I’m in awe. I am acquainted with Donna Andrews, the mystery writer, as she and I worked for many years at the same company, and when she spoke of her writing process she said she just sat down and wrote. I’ve read about other authors who write detailed outlines (may be more important for mysteries than romances). But the creative process is just one big mystery as far as I’m concerned.
    The Washington Post has a contest where they show five photos and ask people to write very short stories based on the photos. One picture was of a couple in a convertible on a desert road. The scene is shot from behind so you really only see some of his broad shoulders and her legs stretched out on the dashboard. She has what looks like a wedding ring on her right hand. My mind began to race as to who they might be, what their relationship was, why she would wear her ring on the opposite hand. Beyond that, however, as to an actual plot, dialogue, filling in anything more than what would fit on the back of a novel — I had nothing, nada, zip, bupkus. So analyze away if you like, but I’ll just be selfish and grateful that your Muses seem to work just fine, however they work.

    Reply
  22. I have no clue how authors write what they do; all I know is that I’m in awe. I am acquainted with Donna Andrews, the mystery writer, as she and I worked for many years at the same company, and when she spoke of her writing process she said she just sat down and wrote. I’ve read about other authors who write detailed outlines (may be more important for mysteries than romances). But the creative process is just one big mystery as far as I’m concerned.
    The Washington Post has a contest where they show five photos and ask people to write very short stories based on the photos. One picture was of a couple in a convertible on a desert road. The scene is shot from behind so you really only see some of his broad shoulders and her legs stretched out on the dashboard. She has what looks like a wedding ring on her right hand. My mind began to race as to who they might be, what their relationship was, why she would wear her ring on the opposite hand. Beyond that, however, as to an actual plot, dialogue, filling in anything more than what would fit on the back of a novel — I had nothing, nada, zip, bupkus. So analyze away if you like, but I’ll just be selfish and grateful that your Muses seem to work just fine, however they work.

    Reply
  23. I have no clue how authors write what they do; all I know is that I’m in awe. I am acquainted with Donna Andrews, the mystery writer, as she and I worked for many years at the same company, and when she spoke of her writing process she said she just sat down and wrote. I’ve read about other authors who write detailed outlines (may be more important for mysteries than romances). But the creative process is just one big mystery as far as I’m concerned.
    The Washington Post has a contest where they show five photos and ask people to write very short stories based on the photos. One picture was of a couple in a convertible on a desert road. The scene is shot from behind so you really only see some of his broad shoulders and her legs stretched out on the dashboard. She has what looks like a wedding ring on her right hand. My mind began to race as to who they might be, what their relationship was, why she would wear her ring on the opposite hand. Beyond that, however, as to an actual plot, dialogue, filling in anything more than what would fit on the back of a novel — I had nothing, nada, zip, bupkus. So analyze away if you like, but I’ll just be selfish and grateful that your Muses seem to work just fine, however they work.

    Reply
  24. I have no clue how authors write what they do; all I know is that I’m in awe. I am acquainted with Donna Andrews, the mystery writer, as she and I worked for many years at the same company, and when she spoke of her writing process she said she just sat down and wrote. I’ve read about other authors who write detailed outlines (may be more important for mysteries than romances). But the creative process is just one big mystery as far as I’m concerned.
    The Washington Post has a contest where they show five photos and ask people to write very short stories based on the photos. One picture was of a couple in a convertible on a desert road. The scene is shot from behind so you really only see some of his broad shoulders and her legs stretched out on the dashboard. She has what looks like a wedding ring on her right hand. My mind began to race as to who they might be, what their relationship was, why she would wear her ring on the opposite hand. Beyond that, however, as to an actual plot, dialogue, filling in anything more than what would fit on the back of a novel — I had nothing, nada, zip, bupkus. So analyze away if you like, but I’ll just be selfish and grateful that your Muses seem to work just fine, however they work.

    Reply
  25. I have no clue how authors write what they do; all I know is that I’m in awe. I am acquainted with Donna Andrews, the mystery writer, as she and I worked for many years at the same company, and when she spoke of her writing process she said she just sat down and wrote. I’ve read about other authors who write detailed outlines (may be more important for mysteries than romances). But the creative process is just one big mystery as far as I’m concerned.
    The Washington Post has a contest where they show five photos and ask people to write very short stories based on the photos. One picture was of a couple in a convertible on a desert road. The scene is shot from behind so you really only see some of his broad shoulders and her legs stretched out on the dashboard. She has what looks like a wedding ring on her right hand. My mind began to race as to who they might be, what their relationship was, why she would wear her ring on the opposite hand. Beyond that, however, as to an actual plot, dialogue, filling in anything more than what would fit on the back of a novel — I had nothing, nada, zip, bupkus. So analyze away if you like, but I’ll just be selfish and grateful that your Muses seem to work just fine, however they work.

    Reply
  26. I find the creative process very interesting. I was trained as a visual artist; so, when I used to get ideas I’d whip out the old paint brush and start painting what I was visualizing in my brain.
    Now, that I’m attempting to write I still visualize things, but I find it hard to put into words what I’m seeing. So, I’ve come to believe that writing may be one of the harder creative processes. I know that painting was a lot easier.
    I’m not sure what I used to think about writers, except I believe that I used to think it was a lot easier than it actually is. I even remember saying to myself, this book is really bad I could do a better job than that. Yes, now I know…I too can write bad books.
    I have little inspirations…how someone enters a room in the wintertime bringing cold air with them or how you can see flashing sun through your closed eyelids in a moving vehicle.
    Something I noticed since I’ve been struggling to write is that I read differently. I now am more appreciative of what I read, especially when I come across some really good stuff that makes me go, wow look what that author did!

    Reply
  27. I find the creative process very interesting. I was trained as a visual artist; so, when I used to get ideas I’d whip out the old paint brush and start painting what I was visualizing in my brain.
    Now, that I’m attempting to write I still visualize things, but I find it hard to put into words what I’m seeing. So, I’ve come to believe that writing may be one of the harder creative processes. I know that painting was a lot easier.
    I’m not sure what I used to think about writers, except I believe that I used to think it was a lot easier than it actually is. I even remember saying to myself, this book is really bad I could do a better job than that. Yes, now I know…I too can write bad books.
    I have little inspirations…how someone enters a room in the wintertime bringing cold air with them or how you can see flashing sun through your closed eyelids in a moving vehicle.
    Something I noticed since I’ve been struggling to write is that I read differently. I now am more appreciative of what I read, especially when I come across some really good stuff that makes me go, wow look what that author did!

    Reply
  28. I find the creative process very interesting. I was trained as a visual artist; so, when I used to get ideas I’d whip out the old paint brush and start painting what I was visualizing in my brain.
    Now, that I’m attempting to write I still visualize things, but I find it hard to put into words what I’m seeing. So, I’ve come to believe that writing may be one of the harder creative processes. I know that painting was a lot easier.
    I’m not sure what I used to think about writers, except I believe that I used to think it was a lot easier than it actually is. I even remember saying to myself, this book is really bad I could do a better job than that. Yes, now I know…I too can write bad books.
    I have little inspirations…how someone enters a room in the wintertime bringing cold air with them or how you can see flashing sun through your closed eyelids in a moving vehicle.
    Something I noticed since I’ve been struggling to write is that I read differently. I now am more appreciative of what I read, especially when I come across some really good stuff that makes me go, wow look what that author did!

    Reply
  29. I find the creative process very interesting. I was trained as a visual artist; so, when I used to get ideas I’d whip out the old paint brush and start painting what I was visualizing in my brain.
    Now, that I’m attempting to write I still visualize things, but I find it hard to put into words what I’m seeing. So, I’ve come to believe that writing may be one of the harder creative processes. I know that painting was a lot easier.
    I’m not sure what I used to think about writers, except I believe that I used to think it was a lot easier than it actually is. I even remember saying to myself, this book is really bad I could do a better job than that. Yes, now I know…I too can write bad books.
    I have little inspirations…how someone enters a room in the wintertime bringing cold air with them or how you can see flashing sun through your closed eyelids in a moving vehicle.
    Something I noticed since I’ve been struggling to write is that I read differently. I now am more appreciative of what I read, especially when I come across some really good stuff that makes me go, wow look what that author did!

    Reply
  30. I find the creative process very interesting. I was trained as a visual artist; so, when I used to get ideas I’d whip out the old paint brush and start painting what I was visualizing in my brain.
    Now, that I’m attempting to write I still visualize things, but I find it hard to put into words what I’m seeing. So, I’ve come to believe that writing may be one of the harder creative processes. I know that painting was a lot easier.
    I’m not sure what I used to think about writers, except I believe that I used to think it was a lot easier than it actually is. I even remember saying to myself, this book is really bad I could do a better job than that. Yes, now I know…I too can write bad books.
    I have little inspirations…how someone enters a room in the wintertime bringing cold air with them or how you can see flashing sun through your closed eyelids in a moving vehicle.
    Something I noticed since I’ve been struggling to write is that I read differently. I now am more appreciative of what I read, especially when I come across some really good stuff that makes me go, wow look what that author did!

    Reply
  31. I am always fascinated with details of the writing process. With creative writers, it never seems to be exactly the same with any two of them. I certainly don’t think the speed of the process dictates the quality. Some of my favorite writers are amazingly prolific, but I love what they write. Others work slowly, but they produce gems as well.
    I have been surprised with my own writing how many similarities there are in my process whether I am writing an academic essay, crafting a poem, or struggling with my WIP. I am a non-linear writer in all three genres, and in all three, much of my work consists of pruning. There are always sections I need to write to get where I need to go in the piece but which my readers don’t need.
    Jo, will Emily and the Dark Angel be reissued? I have recommended that book so often to new-to-the-genre readers, but it is not easy to find.

    Reply
  32. I am always fascinated with details of the writing process. With creative writers, it never seems to be exactly the same with any two of them. I certainly don’t think the speed of the process dictates the quality. Some of my favorite writers are amazingly prolific, but I love what they write. Others work slowly, but they produce gems as well.
    I have been surprised with my own writing how many similarities there are in my process whether I am writing an academic essay, crafting a poem, or struggling with my WIP. I am a non-linear writer in all three genres, and in all three, much of my work consists of pruning. There are always sections I need to write to get where I need to go in the piece but which my readers don’t need.
    Jo, will Emily and the Dark Angel be reissued? I have recommended that book so often to new-to-the-genre readers, but it is not easy to find.

    Reply
  33. I am always fascinated with details of the writing process. With creative writers, it never seems to be exactly the same with any two of them. I certainly don’t think the speed of the process dictates the quality. Some of my favorite writers are amazingly prolific, but I love what they write. Others work slowly, but they produce gems as well.
    I have been surprised with my own writing how many similarities there are in my process whether I am writing an academic essay, crafting a poem, or struggling with my WIP. I am a non-linear writer in all three genres, and in all three, much of my work consists of pruning. There are always sections I need to write to get where I need to go in the piece but which my readers don’t need.
    Jo, will Emily and the Dark Angel be reissued? I have recommended that book so often to new-to-the-genre readers, but it is not easy to find.

    Reply
  34. I am always fascinated with details of the writing process. With creative writers, it never seems to be exactly the same with any two of them. I certainly don’t think the speed of the process dictates the quality. Some of my favorite writers are amazingly prolific, but I love what they write. Others work slowly, but they produce gems as well.
    I have been surprised with my own writing how many similarities there are in my process whether I am writing an academic essay, crafting a poem, or struggling with my WIP. I am a non-linear writer in all three genres, and in all three, much of my work consists of pruning. There are always sections I need to write to get where I need to go in the piece but which my readers don’t need.
    Jo, will Emily and the Dark Angel be reissued? I have recommended that book so often to new-to-the-genre readers, but it is not easy to find.

    Reply
  35. I am always fascinated with details of the writing process. With creative writers, it never seems to be exactly the same with any two of them. I certainly don’t think the speed of the process dictates the quality. Some of my favorite writers are amazingly prolific, but I love what they write. Others work slowly, but they produce gems as well.
    I have been surprised with my own writing how many similarities there are in my process whether I am writing an academic essay, crafting a poem, or struggling with my WIP. I am a non-linear writer in all three genres, and in all three, much of my work consists of pruning. There are always sections I need to write to get where I need to go in the piece but which my readers don’t need.
    Jo, will Emily and the Dark Angel be reissued? I have recommended that book so often to new-to-the-genre readers, but it is not easy to find.

    Reply
  36. You ask if readers care how an author organizes and/or completes her books.
    For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?
    AS to the exact way of plotting out a story–I would say that so long as your heart and mind are involved–the mechanics are not important because each person has their own way that works best for them.

    Reply
  37. You ask if readers care how an author organizes and/or completes her books.
    For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?
    AS to the exact way of plotting out a story–I would say that so long as your heart and mind are involved–the mechanics are not important because each person has their own way that works best for them.

    Reply
  38. You ask if readers care how an author organizes and/or completes her books.
    For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?
    AS to the exact way of plotting out a story–I would say that so long as your heart and mind are involved–the mechanics are not important because each person has their own way that works best for them.

    Reply
  39. You ask if readers care how an author organizes and/or completes her books.
    For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?
    AS to the exact way of plotting out a story–I would say that so long as your heart and mind are involved–the mechanics are not important because each person has their own way that works best for them.

    Reply
  40. You ask if readers care how an author organizes and/or completes her books.
    For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?
    AS to the exact way of plotting out a story–I would say that so long as your heart and mind are involved–the mechanics are not important because each person has their own way that works best for them.

    Reply
  41. Do any authors take suggestions from their readers?
    Sometimes readers might have a “flash” of something from one of your books and say-“OH, I wish she’d (he’d) consider this”
    I forgot to ask last post sorry for using two posts for this one.

    Reply
  42. Do any authors take suggestions from their readers?
    Sometimes readers might have a “flash” of something from one of your books and say-“OH, I wish she’d (he’d) consider this”
    I forgot to ask last post sorry for using two posts for this one.

    Reply
  43. Do any authors take suggestions from their readers?
    Sometimes readers might have a “flash” of something from one of your books and say-“OH, I wish she’d (he’d) consider this”
    I forgot to ask last post sorry for using two posts for this one.

    Reply
  44. Do any authors take suggestions from their readers?
    Sometimes readers might have a “flash” of something from one of your books and say-“OH, I wish she’d (he’d) consider this”
    I forgot to ask last post sorry for using two posts for this one.

    Reply
  45. Do any authors take suggestions from their readers?
    Sometimes readers might have a “flash” of something from one of your books and say-“OH, I wish she’d (he’d) consider this”
    I forgot to ask last post sorry for using two posts for this one.

    Reply
  46. ***For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?***
    I know this happens to me, but I’m a “flying into the myst” writer. My friends who are outliners and plotters look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my characters sometimes mutiny and do what THEY want, not what I had planned. They always respond with “Well just tell them no!”. LOL! I wish it worked like that. If I tell them no they pout and refuse to do anything at all.

    Reply
  47. ***For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?***
    I know this happens to me, but I’m a “flying into the myst” writer. My friends who are outliners and plotters look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my characters sometimes mutiny and do what THEY want, not what I had planned. They always respond with “Well just tell them no!”. LOL! I wish it worked like that. If I tell them no they pout and refuse to do anything at all.

    Reply
  48. ***For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?***
    I know this happens to me, but I’m a “flying into the myst” writer. My friends who are outliners and plotters look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my characters sometimes mutiny and do what THEY want, not what I had planned. They always respond with “Well just tell them no!”. LOL! I wish it worked like that. If I tell them no they pout and refuse to do anything at all.

    Reply
  49. ***For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?***
    I know this happens to me, but I’m a “flying into the myst” writer. My friends who are outliners and plotters look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my characters sometimes mutiny and do what THEY want, not what I had planned. They always respond with “Well just tell them no!”. LOL! I wish it worked like that. If I tell them no they pout and refuse to do anything at all.

    Reply
  50. ***For myself–I would think in some plots–the characters might “take over” and might choose a “different road, the less traveled one” than what YOU THOUGHT you were going to travel?***
    I know this happens to me, but I’m a “flying into the myst” writer. My friends who are outliners and plotters look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my characters sometimes mutiny and do what THEY want, not what I had planned. They always respond with “Well just tell them no!”. LOL! I wish it worked like that. If I tell them no they pout and refuse to do anything at all.

    Reply
  51. Gretchen, it does sound intimidating, doesn’t it? But it’s fun. Honestly!
    RfP, I think some authors feel suffering for every word enhances their credibility. But I ask, in most skilled jobs, does anguish and blood indicate mastery?
    Oh yes, Kalen, my disk is full of bits and pieces. I need to ramble through them more often to see if any of them excite me.
    Thanks, Michelle. I create talks on writing matters that interest me right then, but it’s only whatever notions and insights I have at that moment. I’m not a teacher, and repeating the same talk in many places bores me.
    I’ll stop this before it gets too long and respond to more in another post,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  52. Gretchen, it does sound intimidating, doesn’t it? But it’s fun. Honestly!
    RfP, I think some authors feel suffering for every word enhances their credibility. But I ask, in most skilled jobs, does anguish and blood indicate mastery?
    Oh yes, Kalen, my disk is full of bits and pieces. I need to ramble through them more often to see if any of them excite me.
    Thanks, Michelle. I create talks on writing matters that interest me right then, but it’s only whatever notions and insights I have at that moment. I’m not a teacher, and repeating the same talk in many places bores me.
    I’ll stop this before it gets too long and respond to more in another post,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  53. Gretchen, it does sound intimidating, doesn’t it? But it’s fun. Honestly!
    RfP, I think some authors feel suffering for every word enhances their credibility. But I ask, in most skilled jobs, does anguish and blood indicate mastery?
    Oh yes, Kalen, my disk is full of bits and pieces. I need to ramble through them more often to see if any of them excite me.
    Thanks, Michelle. I create talks on writing matters that interest me right then, but it’s only whatever notions and insights I have at that moment. I’m not a teacher, and repeating the same talk in many places bores me.
    I’ll stop this before it gets too long and respond to more in another post,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  54. Gretchen, it does sound intimidating, doesn’t it? But it’s fun. Honestly!
    RfP, I think some authors feel suffering for every word enhances their credibility. But I ask, in most skilled jobs, does anguish and blood indicate mastery?
    Oh yes, Kalen, my disk is full of bits and pieces. I need to ramble through them more often to see if any of them excite me.
    Thanks, Michelle. I create talks on writing matters that interest me right then, but it’s only whatever notions and insights I have at that moment. I’m not a teacher, and repeating the same talk in many places bores me.
    I’ll stop this before it gets too long and respond to more in another post,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  55. Gretchen, it does sound intimidating, doesn’t it? But it’s fun. Honestly!
    RfP, I think some authors feel suffering for every word enhances their credibility. But I ask, in most skilled jobs, does anguish and blood indicate mastery?
    Oh yes, Kalen, my disk is full of bits and pieces. I need to ramble through them more often to see if any of them excite me.
    Thanks, Michelle. I create talks on writing matters that interest me right then, but it’s only whatever notions and insights I have at that moment. I’m not a teacher, and repeating the same talk in many places bores me.
    I’ll stop this before it gets too long and respond to more in another post,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  56. Susan, far be it from me to encourage anyone to become a writer!*G* But there is one trick to generating a story.
    Take that photo in the Post. You were perceptive in what you saw, but you need a problem. A conflict.
    There are three key words behind most conflicts — escape, possession, and revenge.
    Try applying one or all to those people in that picture. What actions could you see coming if one of them was happening?
    Report back if you can. I’d be really interested in your thoughts. 🙂
    Janga, we’re hoping Emily and the Dark Angel will come soon. It’ll partly depend on how well Lovers and Ladies does, so everyone run out and buy a copy! 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  57. Susan, far be it from me to encourage anyone to become a writer!*G* But there is one trick to generating a story.
    Take that photo in the Post. You were perceptive in what you saw, but you need a problem. A conflict.
    There are three key words behind most conflicts — escape, possession, and revenge.
    Try applying one or all to those people in that picture. What actions could you see coming if one of them was happening?
    Report back if you can. I’d be really interested in your thoughts. 🙂
    Janga, we’re hoping Emily and the Dark Angel will come soon. It’ll partly depend on how well Lovers and Ladies does, so everyone run out and buy a copy! 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  58. Susan, far be it from me to encourage anyone to become a writer!*G* But there is one trick to generating a story.
    Take that photo in the Post. You were perceptive in what you saw, but you need a problem. A conflict.
    There are three key words behind most conflicts — escape, possession, and revenge.
    Try applying one or all to those people in that picture. What actions could you see coming if one of them was happening?
    Report back if you can. I’d be really interested in your thoughts. 🙂
    Janga, we’re hoping Emily and the Dark Angel will come soon. It’ll partly depend on how well Lovers and Ladies does, so everyone run out and buy a copy! 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  59. Susan, far be it from me to encourage anyone to become a writer!*G* But there is one trick to generating a story.
    Take that photo in the Post. You were perceptive in what you saw, but you need a problem. A conflict.
    There are three key words behind most conflicts — escape, possession, and revenge.
    Try applying one or all to those people in that picture. What actions could you see coming if one of them was happening?
    Report back if you can. I’d be really interested in your thoughts. 🙂
    Janga, we’re hoping Emily and the Dark Angel will come soon. It’ll partly depend on how well Lovers and Ladies does, so everyone run out and buy a copy! 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  60. Susan, far be it from me to encourage anyone to become a writer!*G* But there is one trick to generating a story.
    Take that photo in the Post. You were perceptive in what you saw, but you need a problem. A conflict.
    There are three key words behind most conflicts — escape, possession, and revenge.
    Try applying one or all to those people in that picture. What actions could you see coming if one of them was happening?
    Report back if you can. I’d be really interested in your thoughts. 🙂
    Janga, we’re hoping Emily and the Dark Angel will come soon. It’ll partly depend on how well Lovers and Ladies does, so everyone run out and buy a copy! 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  61. No problem on the two posts, Martha.
    As for authors using suggestions from readers, most of the time readers don’t see a work until it’s done. But if you mean for future work, sure, in my case. Sometimes reader discussions of my books draw my attention to aspects I hadn’t seen clearly, or possibilities and problems.
    In fact one has stimulated an aspect of A Lady’s Secret, but I’m not saying what because I think it’ll be a nice little surprise for many of my readers. 🙂
    Oh, I reckon if the characters don’t take over at some point they haven’t come alive. But that’s just me, and everyone knows I’m crazy.
    I talk to imaginary people, and sometimes they talk back,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  62. No problem on the two posts, Martha.
    As for authors using suggestions from readers, most of the time readers don’t see a work until it’s done. But if you mean for future work, sure, in my case. Sometimes reader discussions of my books draw my attention to aspects I hadn’t seen clearly, or possibilities and problems.
    In fact one has stimulated an aspect of A Lady’s Secret, but I’m not saying what because I think it’ll be a nice little surprise for many of my readers. 🙂
    Oh, I reckon if the characters don’t take over at some point they haven’t come alive. But that’s just me, and everyone knows I’m crazy.
    I talk to imaginary people, and sometimes they talk back,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  63. No problem on the two posts, Martha.
    As for authors using suggestions from readers, most of the time readers don’t see a work until it’s done. But if you mean for future work, sure, in my case. Sometimes reader discussions of my books draw my attention to aspects I hadn’t seen clearly, or possibilities and problems.
    In fact one has stimulated an aspect of A Lady’s Secret, but I’m not saying what because I think it’ll be a nice little surprise for many of my readers. 🙂
    Oh, I reckon if the characters don’t take over at some point they haven’t come alive. But that’s just me, and everyone knows I’m crazy.
    I talk to imaginary people, and sometimes they talk back,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  64. No problem on the two posts, Martha.
    As for authors using suggestions from readers, most of the time readers don’t see a work until it’s done. But if you mean for future work, sure, in my case. Sometimes reader discussions of my books draw my attention to aspects I hadn’t seen clearly, or possibilities and problems.
    In fact one has stimulated an aspect of A Lady’s Secret, but I’m not saying what because I think it’ll be a nice little surprise for many of my readers. 🙂
    Oh, I reckon if the characters don’t take over at some point they haven’t come alive. But that’s just me, and everyone knows I’m crazy.
    I talk to imaginary people, and sometimes they talk back,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  65. No problem on the two posts, Martha.
    As for authors using suggestions from readers, most of the time readers don’t see a work until it’s done. But if you mean for future work, sure, in my case. Sometimes reader discussions of my books draw my attention to aspects I hadn’t seen clearly, or possibilities and problems.
    In fact one has stimulated an aspect of A Lady’s Secret, but I’m not saying what because I think it’ll be a nice little surprise for many of my readers. 🙂
    Oh, I reckon if the characters don’t take over at some point they haven’t come alive. But that’s just me, and everyone knows I’m crazy.
    I talk to imaginary people, and sometimes they talk back,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  66. Rambling is good – I tend to do that a lot myself. Think of it as brainstorming with oneself. That is where some of my ideas come from although I’m not a writer. Do I care how you arrived at the story? No, as the cliche goes, the proof is in the pudding. But I do find it interesting to know yours and other authors thought processes regarding your writing. My bits & pieces are in my head; computers are too unpredictable. I usually apply the ideas to my travel itineraries. Very much looking forward to A Lady’s Secret.

    Reply
  67. Rambling is good – I tend to do that a lot myself. Think of it as brainstorming with oneself. That is where some of my ideas come from although I’m not a writer. Do I care how you arrived at the story? No, as the cliche goes, the proof is in the pudding. But I do find it interesting to know yours and other authors thought processes regarding your writing. My bits & pieces are in my head; computers are too unpredictable. I usually apply the ideas to my travel itineraries. Very much looking forward to A Lady’s Secret.

    Reply
  68. Rambling is good – I tend to do that a lot myself. Think of it as brainstorming with oneself. That is where some of my ideas come from although I’m not a writer. Do I care how you arrived at the story? No, as the cliche goes, the proof is in the pudding. But I do find it interesting to know yours and other authors thought processes regarding your writing. My bits & pieces are in my head; computers are too unpredictable. I usually apply the ideas to my travel itineraries. Very much looking forward to A Lady’s Secret.

    Reply
  69. Rambling is good – I tend to do that a lot myself. Think of it as brainstorming with oneself. That is where some of my ideas come from although I’m not a writer. Do I care how you arrived at the story? No, as the cliche goes, the proof is in the pudding. But I do find it interesting to know yours and other authors thought processes regarding your writing. My bits & pieces are in my head; computers are too unpredictable. I usually apply the ideas to my travel itineraries. Very much looking forward to A Lady’s Secret.

    Reply
  70. Rambling is good – I tend to do that a lot myself. Think of it as brainstorming with oneself. That is where some of my ideas come from although I’m not a writer. Do I care how you arrived at the story? No, as the cliche goes, the proof is in the pudding. But I do find it interesting to know yours and other authors thought processes regarding your writing. My bits & pieces are in my head; computers are too unpredictable. I usually apply the ideas to my travel itineraries. Very much looking forward to A Lady’s Secret.

    Reply
  71. In my younger reading days, I don’t remember ever giving a thought as to how a book was written.Books were just “there” to read and enjoy.
    Now after several years reading of writers blogs and comments, I realize that books take effort and input to become a reality.
    Very much looking forward to reading “A Lady’s Secret”.

    Reply
  72. In my younger reading days, I don’t remember ever giving a thought as to how a book was written.Books were just “there” to read and enjoy.
    Now after several years reading of writers blogs and comments, I realize that books take effort and input to become a reality.
    Very much looking forward to reading “A Lady’s Secret”.

    Reply
  73. In my younger reading days, I don’t remember ever giving a thought as to how a book was written.Books were just “there” to read and enjoy.
    Now after several years reading of writers blogs and comments, I realize that books take effort and input to become a reality.
    Very much looking forward to reading “A Lady’s Secret”.

    Reply
  74. In my younger reading days, I don’t remember ever giving a thought as to how a book was written.Books were just “there” to read and enjoy.
    Now after several years reading of writers blogs and comments, I realize that books take effort and input to become a reality.
    Very much looking forward to reading “A Lady’s Secret”.

    Reply
  75. In my younger reading days, I don’t remember ever giving a thought as to how a book was written.Books were just “there” to read and enjoy.
    Now after several years reading of writers blogs and comments, I realize that books take effort and input to become a reality.
    Very much looking forward to reading “A Lady’s Secret”.

    Reply
  76. Springtime and a new Jo Beverley, and two more I haven’t read! Riches indeed.
    Thanks for sharing your process and insights. I get gifts from the “muse” and appreciate every one.
    Sometimes the sense of the idea being dictated to me is so strong that I feel like I’m writing a story that already exists in some future point in time. I’m just going through the physical motions of typing it up.

    Reply
  77. Springtime and a new Jo Beverley, and two more I haven’t read! Riches indeed.
    Thanks for sharing your process and insights. I get gifts from the “muse” and appreciate every one.
    Sometimes the sense of the idea being dictated to me is so strong that I feel like I’m writing a story that already exists in some future point in time. I’m just going through the physical motions of typing it up.

    Reply
  78. Springtime and a new Jo Beverley, and two more I haven’t read! Riches indeed.
    Thanks for sharing your process and insights. I get gifts from the “muse” and appreciate every one.
    Sometimes the sense of the idea being dictated to me is so strong that I feel like I’m writing a story that already exists in some future point in time. I’m just going through the physical motions of typing it up.

    Reply
  79. Springtime and a new Jo Beverley, and two more I haven’t read! Riches indeed.
    Thanks for sharing your process and insights. I get gifts from the “muse” and appreciate every one.
    Sometimes the sense of the idea being dictated to me is so strong that I feel like I’m writing a story that already exists in some future point in time. I’m just going through the physical motions of typing it up.

    Reply
  80. Springtime and a new Jo Beverley, and two more I haven’t read! Riches indeed.
    Thanks for sharing your process and insights. I get gifts from the “muse” and appreciate every one.
    Sometimes the sense of the idea being dictated to me is so strong that I feel like I’m writing a story that already exists in some future point in time. I’m just going through the physical motions of typing it up.

    Reply
  81. I don’t write– and am just in awe of the romance writers I read- how do you come up with so much? The one thing I sometimes can write is poetry– and that seems to just pop out- “fly into the mist” without much conscious thought. — but we are talking 10-16 lines here.
    I am not a particularly linear person– psychotherapy is a responsive art. The problem I had in grad school was that my academic writing wasn’t organized or linear enough. I’ve learned how to get more organized over the years, and my professional presentations always seem to contain some original thought and address some kind of a controversy in the field.
    So, I was wondering if you have any insight into how you keep the writing going once you start. Once you have an idea for a scene, then what? What questions do you ask yourself to flush it out? to take it to the next thing that moves the plot along? are the questions conscious or unconscious?
    I wonder a similar thing about my wonderful world-class ballet teacher. How does he know what to do next? Does he think about what is best to move the class along, or does he just do it somehow?
    I have liked reading psychological theorists who write about how they think, – what questions were brought up by a particular clinical situation- and what theory (hypotheses) were thought up as a result of the problem. I suppose that format could be linear, but often it isn’t. It’s more like– and then I thought about– and then— and then.–
    Kind of like this post. If I were organized I might ask– what is the question here? I suppose it might be “how do you balance the need for organization and the need for creativity?” I would think that even a “fly into the mist” writer would have to organize at some level. Is it after the fact? or in the editing?
    so, I guess it is two questions. How do you keep the creativity going past the initial idea? Then, how do you balance organization and creativity?
    Merry

    Reply
  82. I don’t write– and am just in awe of the romance writers I read- how do you come up with so much? The one thing I sometimes can write is poetry– and that seems to just pop out- “fly into the mist” without much conscious thought. — but we are talking 10-16 lines here.
    I am not a particularly linear person– psychotherapy is a responsive art. The problem I had in grad school was that my academic writing wasn’t organized or linear enough. I’ve learned how to get more organized over the years, and my professional presentations always seem to contain some original thought and address some kind of a controversy in the field.
    So, I was wondering if you have any insight into how you keep the writing going once you start. Once you have an idea for a scene, then what? What questions do you ask yourself to flush it out? to take it to the next thing that moves the plot along? are the questions conscious or unconscious?
    I wonder a similar thing about my wonderful world-class ballet teacher. How does he know what to do next? Does he think about what is best to move the class along, or does he just do it somehow?
    I have liked reading psychological theorists who write about how they think, – what questions were brought up by a particular clinical situation- and what theory (hypotheses) were thought up as a result of the problem. I suppose that format could be linear, but often it isn’t. It’s more like– and then I thought about– and then— and then.–
    Kind of like this post. If I were organized I might ask– what is the question here? I suppose it might be “how do you balance the need for organization and the need for creativity?” I would think that even a “fly into the mist” writer would have to organize at some level. Is it after the fact? or in the editing?
    so, I guess it is two questions. How do you keep the creativity going past the initial idea? Then, how do you balance organization and creativity?
    Merry

    Reply
  83. I don’t write– and am just in awe of the romance writers I read- how do you come up with so much? The one thing I sometimes can write is poetry– and that seems to just pop out- “fly into the mist” without much conscious thought. — but we are talking 10-16 lines here.
    I am not a particularly linear person– psychotherapy is a responsive art. The problem I had in grad school was that my academic writing wasn’t organized or linear enough. I’ve learned how to get more organized over the years, and my professional presentations always seem to contain some original thought and address some kind of a controversy in the field.
    So, I was wondering if you have any insight into how you keep the writing going once you start. Once you have an idea for a scene, then what? What questions do you ask yourself to flush it out? to take it to the next thing that moves the plot along? are the questions conscious or unconscious?
    I wonder a similar thing about my wonderful world-class ballet teacher. How does he know what to do next? Does he think about what is best to move the class along, or does he just do it somehow?
    I have liked reading psychological theorists who write about how they think, – what questions were brought up by a particular clinical situation- and what theory (hypotheses) were thought up as a result of the problem. I suppose that format could be linear, but often it isn’t. It’s more like– and then I thought about– and then— and then.–
    Kind of like this post. If I were organized I might ask– what is the question here? I suppose it might be “how do you balance the need for organization and the need for creativity?” I would think that even a “fly into the mist” writer would have to organize at some level. Is it after the fact? or in the editing?
    so, I guess it is two questions. How do you keep the creativity going past the initial idea? Then, how do you balance organization and creativity?
    Merry

    Reply
  84. I don’t write– and am just in awe of the romance writers I read- how do you come up with so much? The one thing I sometimes can write is poetry– and that seems to just pop out- “fly into the mist” without much conscious thought. — but we are talking 10-16 lines here.
    I am not a particularly linear person– psychotherapy is a responsive art. The problem I had in grad school was that my academic writing wasn’t organized or linear enough. I’ve learned how to get more organized over the years, and my professional presentations always seem to contain some original thought and address some kind of a controversy in the field.
    So, I was wondering if you have any insight into how you keep the writing going once you start. Once you have an idea for a scene, then what? What questions do you ask yourself to flush it out? to take it to the next thing that moves the plot along? are the questions conscious or unconscious?
    I wonder a similar thing about my wonderful world-class ballet teacher. How does he know what to do next? Does he think about what is best to move the class along, or does he just do it somehow?
    I have liked reading psychological theorists who write about how they think, – what questions were brought up by a particular clinical situation- and what theory (hypotheses) were thought up as a result of the problem. I suppose that format could be linear, but often it isn’t. It’s more like– and then I thought about– and then— and then.–
    Kind of like this post. If I were organized I might ask– what is the question here? I suppose it might be “how do you balance the need for organization and the need for creativity?” I would think that even a “fly into the mist” writer would have to organize at some level. Is it after the fact? or in the editing?
    so, I guess it is two questions. How do you keep the creativity going past the initial idea? Then, how do you balance organization and creativity?
    Merry

    Reply
  85. I don’t write– and am just in awe of the romance writers I read- how do you come up with so much? The one thing I sometimes can write is poetry– and that seems to just pop out- “fly into the mist” without much conscious thought. — but we are talking 10-16 lines here.
    I am not a particularly linear person– psychotherapy is a responsive art. The problem I had in grad school was that my academic writing wasn’t organized or linear enough. I’ve learned how to get more organized over the years, and my professional presentations always seem to contain some original thought and address some kind of a controversy in the field.
    So, I was wondering if you have any insight into how you keep the writing going once you start. Once you have an idea for a scene, then what? What questions do you ask yourself to flush it out? to take it to the next thing that moves the plot along? are the questions conscious or unconscious?
    I wonder a similar thing about my wonderful world-class ballet teacher. How does he know what to do next? Does he think about what is best to move the class along, or does he just do it somehow?
    I have liked reading psychological theorists who write about how they think, – what questions were brought up by a particular clinical situation- and what theory (hypotheses) were thought up as a result of the problem. I suppose that format could be linear, but often it isn’t. It’s more like– and then I thought about– and then— and then.–
    Kind of like this post. If I were organized I might ask– what is the question here? I suppose it might be “how do you balance the need for organization and the need for creativity?” I would think that even a “fly into the mist” writer would have to organize at some level. Is it after the fact? or in the editing?
    so, I guess it is two questions. How do you keep the creativity going past the initial idea? Then, how do you balance organization and creativity?
    Merry

    Reply
  86. Fascinating comments, Merry. How do we move a book along? I think my main answer is the same — conflict.
    This isn’t always fighting, of course. It can be inner struggles, or barriers to goals. But if the character wants something and can’t have it, or gets it and finds it’s not what she wants, or all she wants. Or if getting it creates new problems.
    Then the story has moved.
    The one thing that’ll stall a book and even kill it is to exhaust the real, convincing problems.
    Jo

    Reply
  87. Fascinating comments, Merry. How do we move a book along? I think my main answer is the same — conflict.
    This isn’t always fighting, of course. It can be inner struggles, or barriers to goals. But if the character wants something and can’t have it, or gets it and finds it’s not what she wants, or all she wants. Or if getting it creates new problems.
    Then the story has moved.
    The one thing that’ll stall a book and even kill it is to exhaust the real, convincing problems.
    Jo

    Reply
  88. Fascinating comments, Merry. How do we move a book along? I think my main answer is the same — conflict.
    This isn’t always fighting, of course. It can be inner struggles, or barriers to goals. But if the character wants something and can’t have it, or gets it and finds it’s not what she wants, or all she wants. Or if getting it creates new problems.
    Then the story has moved.
    The one thing that’ll stall a book and even kill it is to exhaust the real, convincing problems.
    Jo

    Reply
  89. Fascinating comments, Merry. How do we move a book along? I think my main answer is the same — conflict.
    This isn’t always fighting, of course. It can be inner struggles, or barriers to goals. But if the character wants something and can’t have it, or gets it and finds it’s not what she wants, or all she wants. Or if getting it creates new problems.
    Then the story has moved.
    The one thing that’ll stall a book and even kill it is to exhaust the real, convincing problems.
    Jo

    Reply
  90. Fascinating comments, Merry. How do we move a book along? I think my main answer is the same — conflict.
    This isn’t always fighting, of course. It can be inner struggles, or barriers to goals. But if the character wants something and can’t have it, or gets it and finds it’s not what she wants, or all she wants. Or if getting it creates new problems.
    Then the story has moved.
    The one thing that’ll stall a book and even kill it is to exhaust the real, convincing problems.
    Jo

    Reply
  91. Thanks, Jo. I needed to hear this, today. Writing, here of late, is like trying to breathe under water. But, what you’ve shown me in your post is that I need to trust my muse and stop trying to figure things out.
    Hugs to you, Jo!
    Nina, off to try again.

    Reply
  92. Thanks, Jo. I needed to hear this, today. Writing, here of late, is like trying to breathe under water. But, what you’ve shown me in your post is that I need to trust my muse and stop trying to figure things out.
    Hugs to you, Jo!
    Nina, off to try again.

    Reply
  93. Thanks, Jo. I needed to hear this, today. Writing, here of late, is like trying to breathe under water. But, what you’ve shown me in your post is that I need to trust my muse and stop trying to figure things out.
    Hugs to you, Jo!
    Nina, off to try again.

    Reply
  94. Thanks, Jo. I needed to hear this, today. Writing, here of late, is like trying to breathe under water. But, what you’ve shown me in your post is that I need to trust my muse and stop trying to figure things out.
    Hugs to you, Jo!
    Nina, off to try again.

    Reply
  95. Thanks, Jo. I needed to hear this, today. Writing, here of late, is like trying to breathe under water. But, what you’ve shown me in your post is that I need to trust my muse and stop trying to figure things out.
    Hugs to you, Jo!
    Nina, off to try again.

    Reply
  96. The creative process is so mysterious and I believe a lot of it comes from deep inner recesses of your brain that are working on a subconscious level.
    I remember in college working and outlining and revising a paper for an English class–oh, how I slaved over it–and the professor hated it and gave it a “C.” I was so perplexed–I had no idea how to “fix” it, and I had certainly worked hard.
    So for the class’s next paper, I started it at 2 am the day it was due, and wrote it all night in a complete haze of desperation and caffeine. The professor loved it and wrote on it, “Now THIS is more like it!”
    Obviously something creative and insightful got released there in the middle of the night. Since then I’ve experienced the same thing in my Saturday-night sermon writing.
    Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?
    I have so much admiration for all you folk who write for a living. How you all enrich my life.
    Blessings,
    Melinda

    Reply
  97. The creative process is so mysterious and I believe a lot of it comes from deep inner recesses of your brain that are working on a subconscious level.
    I remember in college working and outlining and revising a paper for an English class–oh, how I slaved over it–and the professor hated it and gave it a “C.” I was so perplexed–I had no idea how to “fix” it, and I had certainly worked hard.
    So for the class’s next paper, I started it at 2 am the day it was due, and wrote it all night in a complete haze of desperation and caffeine. The professor loved it and wrote on it, “Now THIS is more like it!”
    Obviously something creative and insightful got released there in the middle of the night. Since then I’ve experienced the same thing in my Saturday-night sermon writing.
    Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?
    I have so much admiration for all you folk who write for a living. How you all enrich my life.
    Blessings,
    Melinda

    Reply
  98. The creative process is so mysterious and I believe a lot of it comes from deep inner recesses of your brain that are working on a subconscious level.
    I remember in college working and outlining and revising a paper for an English class–oh, how I slaved over it–and the professor hated it and gave it a “C.” I was so perplexed–I had no idea how to “fix” it, and I had certainly worked hard.
    So for the class’s next paper, I started it at 2 am the day it was due, and wrote it all night in a complete haze of desperation and caffeine. The professor loved it and wrote on it, “Now THIS is more like it!”
    Obviously something creative and insightful got released there in the middle of the night. Since then I’ve experienced the same thing in my Saturday-night sermon writing.
    Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?
    I have so much admiration for all you folk who write for a living. How you all enrich my life.
    Blessings,
    Melinda

    Reply
  99. The creative process is so mysterious and I believe a lot of it comes from deep inner recesses of your brain that are working on a subconscious level.
    I remember in college working and outlining and revising a paper for an English class–oh, how I slaved over it–and the professor hated it and gave it a “C.” I was so perplexed–I had no idea how to “fix” it, and I had certainly worked hard.
    So for the class’s next paper, I started it at 2 am the day it was due, and wrote it all night in a complete haze of desperation and caffeine. The professor loved it and wrote on it, “Now THIS is more like it!”
    Obviously something creative and insightful got released there in the middle of the night. Since then I’ve experienced the same thing in my Saturday-night sermon writing.
    Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?
    I have so much admiration for all you folk who write for a living. How you all enrich my life.
    Blessings,
    Melinda

    Reply
  100. The creative process is so mysterious and I believe a lot of it comes from deep inner recesses of your brain that are working on a subconscious level.
    I remember in college working and outlining and revising a paper for an English class–oh, how I slaved over it–and the professor hated it and gave it a “C.” I was so perplexed–I had no idea how to “fix” it, and I had certainly worked hard.
    So for the class’s next paper, I started it at 2 am the day it was due, and wrote it all night in a complete haze of desperation and caffeine. The professor loved it and wrote on it, “Now THIS is more like it!”
    Obviously something creative and insightful got released there in the middle of the night. Since then I’ve experienced the same thing in my Saturday-night sermon writing.
    Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?
    I have so much admiration for all you folk who write for a living. How you all enrich my life.
    Blessings,
    Melinda

    Reply
  101. Rev Melinda said: “Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?”
    Well you know, this is behind the many addictions that have plagued great writers — especially alcohol. They seemed to find that they couldn’t get to the good stuff sober.
    Not that I’m encouraging anyone to take to drink!
    I do think it can be useful to write things that we back off from, just as an exercise. If we don’t write extreme violence, write a scene like that. If we don’t write explicit sex, ditto. Or a soft, sweet, tender scene. Whatever it is we swerve to avoid.
    We might not put such scenes in our work, but by writing them as an exercise we’ve broken down some of the blocks in our mind.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  102. Rev Melinda said: “Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?”
    Well you know, this is behind the many addictions that have plagued great writers — especially alcohol. They seemed to find that they couldn’t get to the good stuff sober.
    Not that I’m encouraging anyone to take to drink!
    I do think it can be useful to write things that we back off from, just as an exercise. If we don’t write extreme violence, write a scene like that. If we don’t write explicit sex, ditto. Or a soft, sweet, tender scene. Whatever it is we swerve to avoid.
    We might not put such scenes in our work, but by writing them as an exercise we’ve broken down some of the blocks in our mind.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  103. Rev Melinda said: “Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?”
    Well you know, this is behind the many addictions that have plagued great writers — especially alcohol. They seemed to find that they couldn’t get to the good stuff sober.
    Not that I’m encouraging anyone to take to drink!
    I do think it can be useful to write things that we back off from, just as an exercise. If we don’t write extreme violence, write a scene like that. If we don’t write explicit sex, ditto. Or a soft, sweet, tender scene. Whatever it is we swerve to avoid.
    We might not put such scenes in our work, but by writing them as an exercise we’ve broken down some of the blocks in our mind.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  104. Rev Melinda said: “Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?”
    Well you know, this is behind the many addictions that have plagued great writers — especially alcohol. They seemed to find that they couldn’t get to the good stuff sober.
    Not that I’m encouraging anyone to take to drink!
    I do think it can be useful to write things that we back off from, just as an exercise. If we don’t write extreme violence, write a scene like that. If we don’t write explicit sex, ditto. Or a soft, sweet, tender scene. Whatever it is we swerve to avoid.
    We might not put such scenes in our work, but by writing them as an exercise we’ve broken down some of the blocks in our mind.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  105. Rev Melinda said: “Maybe those self-limiting inhibitions are released at night? Maybe there’s better access to the imagination when I’m barely conscious? Maybe when I’m in extremis and don’t fret that my writing isn’t perfect–it gets better?”
    Well you know, this is behind the many addictions that have plagued great writers — especially alcohol. They seemed to find that they couldn’t get to the good stuff sober.
    Not that I’m encouraging anyone to take to drink!
    I do think it can be useful to write things that we back off from, just as an exercise. If we don’t write extreme violence, write a scene like that. If we don’t write explicit sex, ditto. Or a soft, sweet, tender scene. Whatever it is we swerve to avoid.
    We might not put such scenes in our work, but by writing them as an exercise we’ve broken down some of the blocks in our mind.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  106. I thought books were brought by the stork. Hmm. I may have to rethink some things. 😉
    I love to read about writers’ processes. I don’t much care how they write it, with or without a plan, because each story and each author is so unique. Great stories can come from great planning or from no planning at all. The proof is in the end result.
    I would love to hear more about the writing process anytime you care to share. Thanks Jo!

    Reply
  107. I thought books were brought by the stork. Hmm. I may have to rethink some things. 😉
    I love to read about writers’ processes. I don’t much care how they write it, with or without a plan, because each story and each author is so unique. Great stories can come from great planning or from no planning at all. The proof is in the end result.
    I would love to hear more about the writing process anytime you care to share. Thanks Jo!

    Reply
  108. I thought books were brought by the stork. Hmm. I may have to rethink some things. 😉
    I love to read about writers’ processes. I don’t much care how they write it, with or without a plan, because each story and each author is so unique. Great stories can come from great planning or from no planning at all. The proof is in the end result.
    I would love to hear more about the writing process anytime you care to share. Thanks Jo!

    Reply
  109. I thought books were brought by the stork. Hmm. I may have to rethink some things. 😉
    I love to read about writers’ processes. I don’t much care how they write it, with or without a plan, because each story and each author is so unique. Great stories can come from great planning or from no planning at all. The proof is in the end result.
    I would love to hear more about the writing process anytime you care to share. Thanks Jo!

    Reply
  110. I thought books were brought by the stork. Hmm. I may have to rethink some things. 😉
    I love to read about writers’ processes. I don’t much care how they write it, with or without a plan, because each story and each author is so unique. Great stories can come from great planning or from no planning at all. The proof is in the end result.
    I would love to hear more about the writing process anytime you care to share. Thanks Jo!

    Reply
  111. Thanks for the comment, Anne.
    I just don’t think about process all that much — unless I’m in a dry spot, at which time I’m chewing at it like a dog at a bone! But I’m not sure those thoughts are useful.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  112. Thanks for the comment, Anne.
    I just don’t think about process all that much — unless I’m in a dry spot, at which time I’m chewing at it like a dog at a bone! But I’m not sure those thoughts are useful.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  113. Thanks for the comment, Anne.
    I just don’t think about process all that much — unless I’m in a dry spot, at which time I’m chewing at it like a dog at a bone! But I’m not sure those thoughts are useful.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  114. Thanks for the comment, Anne.
    I just don’t think about process all that much — unless I’m in a dry spot, at which time I’m chewing at it like a dog at a bone! But I’m not sure those thoughts are useful.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  115. Thanks for the comment, Anne.
    I just don’t think about process all that much — unless I’m in a dry spot, at which time I’m chewing at it like a dog at a bone! But I’m not sure those thoughts are useful.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  116. Jo, thank you for telling about your creative process. I am amazed to read that you get started on a book with only a vague idea of where the story is going! And I gather that you keep it that loose (unplanned) pretty far into the process.
    That blows me away, because so much happens in your books. They seem so complex and well-woven, with each thread consistent and yet surprising from beginning to end.
    I am beginning to try to write. For years my head has been full of plots and backstories. I am very fond of them and find it tempting to elaborate on them endlessly in my imagination; but that doesn’t get them down on paper. How did you find the voice of the time period?

    Reply
  117. Jo, thank you for telling about your creative process. I am amazed to read that you get started on a book with only a vague idea of where the story is going! And I gather that you keep it that loose (unplanned) pretty far into the process.
    That blows me away, because so much happens in your books. They seem so complex and well-woven, with each thread consistent and yet surprising from beginning to end.
    I am beginning to try to write. For years my head has been full of plots and backstories. I am very fond of them and find it tempting to elaborate on them endlessly in my imagination; but that doesn’t get them down on paper. How did you find the voice of the time period?

    Reply
  118. Jo, thank you for telling about your creative process. I am amazed to read that you get started on a book with only a vague idea of where the story is going! And I gather that you keep it that loose (unplanned) pretty far into the process.
    That blows me away, because so much happens in your books. They seem so complex and well-woven, with each thread consistent and yet surprising from beginning to end.
    I am beginning to try to write. For years my head has been full of plots and backstories. I am very fond of them and find it tempting to elaborate on them endlessly in my imagination; but that doesn’t get them down on paper. How did you find the voice of the time period?

    Reply
  119. Jo, thank you for telling about your creative process. I am amazed to read that you get started on a book with only a vague idea of where the story is going! And I gather that you keep it that loose (unplanned) pretty far into the process.
    That blows me away, because so much happens in your books. They seem so complex and well-woven, with each thread consistent and yet surprising from beginning to end.
    I am beginning to try to write. For years my head has been full of plots and backstories. I am very fond of them and find it tempting to elaborate on them endlessly in my imagination; but that doesn’t get them down on paper. How did you find the voice of the time period?

    Reply
  120. Jo, thank you for telling about your creative process. I am amazed to read that you get started on a book with only a vague idea of where the story is going! And I gather that you keep it that loose (unplanned) pretty far into the process.
    That blows me away, because so much happens in your books. They seem so complex and well-woven, with each thread consistent and yet surprising from beginning to end.
    I am beginning to try to write. For years my head has been full of plots and backstories. I am very fond of them and find it tempting to elaborate on them endlessly in my imagination; but that doesn’t get them down on paper. How did you find the voice of the time period?

    Reply

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