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Day 3: In your own space, talk about your creative process - from what inspires you to what motivates you to how you manage to break through blocks. Does your process change depending on the type of creating you're doing?

For fanfic, since I usually do it as part of a challenge or gift exchange, my creative process is greatly influenced by the prompt/request from the giftee. But usually, I look around until I find a prompt that takes root or resonates with me about a particular fandom that I'm confident I can reasonably write well, keeping all the characters as IC as possible while still keeping to the prompt. I've been really lucky over the years to get some awesome prompts! Sometimes I outline, sometimes I don't, depending on the length of work that presents itself to me--drabbles generally don't need outlines, and I write them in one sitting. For a longer piece of writing, I usually have a basic outline, like "Scene 1: Character A does/asks for/says [X], causing B to [action/response], leading to Scene 2, where consequences of 1 play out..." etc. etc. If I've done any research for the fic, this is where it shows up, usually in shorthand like, "Remember Bergamot!" or "M.I.C.E.!" or any shorthand phrase that will trigger my memory as I get to it in the fic. With drabbles and longer fic, I give it a 24-hour cool-off-period before I do any editing/revising/beta-ing. Usually, I will read my work aloud to make sure I've captured the characters' voices correctly, or at least try to imagine the dialogue in a scene of the original work.

I should add here that my trick for beating block in both fanfic and original work is two-fold:

1) Ignore all voices coming from mental radio station KFKD (thank you, Anne Lamott) with a constant mantra of, "It's just a rough draft, mistakes don't matter, it's just a rough draft, you can always go back, it's just a rough draft, writing is a recursive process..." (Or some shorter part of that.)

2) ALWAYS quit while I still have something to say, even if it's just the last sentence of a character's speech, or a more cliffhanger-y, pivotal moment. Even if it's just the sentence, keeping it in mind for a while often leads to other thoughts, like, If Character A actually says this, then B will have no choice but to do that... UNLESS... or, Character C doesn't know about A&B yet, what would she/he say if she/he saw this scene take place?

More questions are always better than fewer!

For my original works, it's more complicated. Since I don't have canon to check back with, I'm on my own for how characters act, speak, and think, so I have a bit more pressure on me to Get It Right. I tend to read aloud as I go along, and I do a lot more in-draft editing than I do with fanfic, mostly as I catch myself in errors, grammatical or otherwise. For long original pieces, I definitely have an outline in mind, especially if there are particular scenes that I've been building to, or revelations that I want to pace correctly. (I have built works around scenes that I wrote by themselves before the work itself, so then outlines really saved my sanity.)

Sometimes, I have the chance to read the work aloud to an awesome friend, and that is the best, best experience, because it combines inspiration and feedback into one amazing conversation. :)

But I usually do my original stuff in solitude, perhaps with a little mood music here and there along the way, and then I take a break from it and go back in later, repeating all the steps as necessary: reading aloud, listening for character voices, checking for overall pacing by reading the draft in one sitting, etc. etc. My original work is largely inspired by a large cast of recurring characters, and I'm constantly trying to make sure that their voices are RIGHT because they are so different from my own, and I really try to get out of my head in both drafting and revising stages and get into theirs. I try to listen to music they like; I sometimes go to stores that I think they would shop at; I've even eaten food that I thought a particular character would eat, so I could describe it in their words and not my own. Writing should be a multi-sensory experience.

Crafting is simultaneously the hardest and the easiest thing I do. I don't have to think about it on the same level that I do for fic or original writing, but I do have to concentrate, or a terrible mess occurs. I'm currently attempting a bunch of nerdy cross stitch projects; my latest endeavor is based on WeeLittleStitches' Superhero Alphabet pattern, edited mightily to spell out 'Ethan' for my friends' baby boy. (If you're interested in seeing my slow, slow progress, it's here in this album that I need to update to show my progress on Hulk's head.) Right now, I like the sort of work that I can do with the TV in the background--usually wedding brouhaha shows or silly cartoons that I can watch intermittently. It's hard to carve out that time and physical space. I like to spread out my work and tools and I use all the space on our loveseat to accommodate that. So the difficulty lies in finding time when I'm not exhausted and unlikely to make mistakes, as well as not chasing someone else off the sofa. Still, though, it's one of the most entertaining things I do--to see something physical grow before my eyes is really fulfilling. I love writing, but fanfic and original work don't grow in the same way, and often they exist in a virtual space only, not a real one.
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May 2016

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