When other writers write about their methods, techniques and habits I generally winding up wondering whether I really am a writer. Because I don’t really work the way most of them say they do. From early chiodhood, when I started writing short stories, a huge amount of the process has always gone on in my head — not necessarily within my consciousness, but in my head… or potentially in the ethers.
I can describe it somewhat better when it comes to nonfiction writing. While I was still a lawyer and fairly new at the Governor’s Office I kept being assigned to write the briefs for the cases. These were big nuclear power plant cases, with tens of thousands of pages of testimony and documents [mostly nuclear engineering and econometric forecasting… don’t you wish you could get to do nuclear cases?].
Our office was one of a group of consumer advocacy agencies that generally pooled resources for experts and agreed on a certain amount of the argument. But each office wrote its own brief. Most submitted briefs around 150 pages long and most started doing drafts a couple of weeks before the brief was due.
I drove my office crazy because I would just sit and read testimony and transcripts. Read and look at the ceiling. Read and ask a lot of questions of the few who actually understood nuclear engineering and econometric forecasting. Then one day — usually a few days before the brief was due — I’d have an aha moment in which I could see every argument and how it needed to be ordered and which testimony to use to back it up.
I’d grab a pen and start writing. In a couple of days my 80 page masterpiece would be finished. After a few times it didn’t drive them nuts because when that magic moment arrived I churned out a concise, precise product with the arguments ordered in the most forceful way, etc. Many professors and lawyers, etc. have been disbelieving that my final product is also the first draft and not the third or fourth.
As I’ve been “working” on the e-book I’m trying to get out this summer, I’ve mostly been sitting with the previous things I’ve written on the topic and reading it over and over. And staring at the ceiling. And doing other stuff.
The other day I could suddenly see most of how it needs to come together. There’s some little thing still nagging me so I’m not writing yet but I predict that soon I will sit down one day and churn out the whole thing. My process for fiction is similar except there’s a little more woo woo since my brain is not just busily synthesizing information and organizing what to say about it. Anybody else out there have their own far out method of writing?