Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Scientist and The Writing

I spent a lot of time in the last days examining my writing. Well, not the writing itself, but more my relationship to it -- why I do it, what I expect from it, what my goals are. You know the questions. You probably asked them for yourself before.

I've been writing for a little more than four years now, with something like 8 projects to back it up. I read blogs (and started my own), bought how-to books, participated on writer forums. I plotted, drafted, replotted, redrafted and edited, sometimes all on the same WIP.

Through it all I realised that the information I sought the most out of fellow writers was how they did it. Not necessarily how it should look in the final product, but how they got there (or are trying to).

Methods. Techniques.

I blame the scientist in me. Even knowing that every writer is different, and that someone else's technique might not work for me, I want to know. And with every new draft - every new attempt at this writing thing - he tries bits of other people's techniques.

Kind of the writerly version of the scientific method. Observe, Experiment, Note Results, Draw Conclusions. Try again?

I'm not done yet. My process is getting better and better, but I've yet to streamline it into a method that'll be flezible enough for most of my books, and fit my writing style.

As a side note, you should check Margo's mindblowing post (though perhaps not mindblowing in the way you expect it) at Wicked & Tricksy today. The content and title kinda prompted today's reflection.

And what about you? Do you steal bits of writing methods elsewhere? For what? Planning, writing, editing?


  1. Heck yeah. I'll borrow any technique I think looks good, for any phase of the work. I want a t-shirt that reads "Writer: professional liar and thief".

  2. I adore Margo (*waves* Hi, Margo!) but her post was so intense that I had to stop reading. It is JAM PACKED with helpful info, but all I read was "here's what you're NOT doing, Tricia..." So I did the next best thing--I printed it out and put it in my writing folder to tackle another day.

    Claudie, I'm a lot like you. I need to know the process, the steps. One of those, 'show me your way and I'll try it and revise as necessary.'

    So are you going to share with us (and by "us" I mean me) your process? Who else am I going to copy?! :)

  3. Margo, I'd buy that t-shirt ANY TIME.

    Tricia: I agree, the whole post is a bit overwhelming, and I love it. SO MUCH THINGS TO PILFER, whee!

    My process is all over the place, to be honest. It involves a lot of talking to my boyfriend as we drive around, then typing into a document, then laying around awake at night. ^^

    I did do a post way back in February about what I had before I started writing last time:

  4. I keep thinking I'll arrive at something magic. And yet...

    I do love the concept of self-experimentation.

  5. I have so often tried other writers' methods and only encountered failure. It may be because there's a strong part of me that is inherently rebellious. I do enjoy discussing technique though and will probably get more into that on my blog as my writing routine smooths out.

  6. Hektor: Don't we all wish there was a magic way? ;)

    Sarah: It's not surprising for other techniques to fail. What works for one writer doesn't always for another. When I try other things, though, I get a better idea of what tends to work for me, or how I could modify the technique to make it fit my needs.

  7. I'm with you. I think the scientific method applies to everything in life - try it one way, measure your results, try again. And I've always loved the stories of how scientists arrive at their conclusions more than the actual science (maybe that's why I teach instead of do, eh?) I read a lot of craft stuff, too, and I just Frankenstein it all into a process that seems like it'll suit my work personality. Margo's post today scared the crap out of me - I admire it. I wish I was like that sometimes, but I'm too scatterbrained to make it through all that planning. But that doesn't mean that there aren't elements of that work philosophy that I can't meld into my own practice. After all, without Einstein there can be no Oppenheimer... maybe that's a bad example.

  8. I get to be Oppenheimer! Bwhahahahaha! My legend grows.

  9. Don't want to disappoint, Margo, but if you're bringing the theory and we rip off from it to build our own method, we are Oppenheimer, and you are Einstein.

    On the other hand, you already admitted taking bits from a lot of other writers, in which case you are Oppenheimer. Plus the most common response to your post was "MIND BLOWN" or "MIND MELT", so...

    I hereby grant you the title of Atomic Bomb Planner. :D

  10. "I hereby grant you the title of Atomic Bomb Planner. :D"

    I am last.