Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creative Flow, Scene by Scene!

I love when I hear a writer say, "I write when inspiration hits me."

BLAH! That is what I hear from those writers. . . . . .

As a writer, among other duties, I don't have that luxury to write when it HITS ME! And most professional writers don't have that kind of time either.

I'm not saying my muse doesn't strike at crazy times, it does, but my muse also doesn't show up when I need it to. And those are the times that I'm talking about. That is about 90% of my writing time.

Wouldn't it be great if every time you sat down to write, your creativity just flowed over?

Over the past couple years I have come up with a few tips and tricks on how to maintain the creative flow when you sit down to write every single book.

1) Ideas. I'm always trying to come up with ideas for new books. I've said that I carry my journal every where I go. It's a journal of ideas and they are all gathered in one place. Easy to find. Some writers use journals to jot down ideas, sayings, notes etc. . .and never use the journal for the intended purpose. So don't go out and buy a journal to to write things down because you will have a whole collection of journals without having written a novel.

Generally one or two ideas will catch your fancy. And if you are like me, you begin to process those ideas. "If this happened, then what would happen if that happened?" These questions begin to form your idea into a scene in your story.

2) Collect information. Ideas turn into concrete research which leads to more creativity and more ideas. All the information that you collect will start to fit together. The information will help you see relationships between your characters, places they need to go, and help you understand where your idea is taking you.

3) Sift! This is the fun part where you get to go through all the ideas and information you have collected and begin to see the concrete evidence you need for the bare bones of your scene in your novel. The more and more you go through your information, the more you are going to have that scene formed in your head.

4) Coffee stage. This is the stage where all the information from point 1-3 hang out in our head for a while and begin to percolate. If you don't like coffee, it can be likened to a crock pot. The ideas that you have need to bubble over. This happens to me at the oddest times, like shower, taking my dogs for a walk, sitting in church. You will have those eureka moments...just let it come to you. Let it percolate!

5) Flow baby flow. Your scene should be flowing at this point. Embrace it! Your ideas should be appearing out of no where and it will hit you at all hours in the day, and this includes 2 AM! This is the fun part!

6) Share! You have something to share with your critique partner/group. Get feedback. Get their opinion and ideas from what you have done so far. A lot of times they can help your creative juices flow more with their input.

Just last week I was meeting with my critique group, when one of my partners asked me a question about the mystery. I hadn't thought of that little tweak, but what she suggested was GREAT and was easy to incorporate into my scene. It gave me a little excitement, stirring the creative pot, causing me to write another 2k words!

7) Start over. Yes, you have to start these steps all over again. Scene after scene.

Ultimately it's up to you to write the novel. It's up to you to take your ideas and shape them into your vision, your voice, and get it to your readers.


  1. Great info, Tonya. Right now I'm in what you call the percolating stage ... I call it stewing. I'm mulling things over in my mind and wondering what circumstances I could put my characters in to make their lives miserable, er ... I mean ... make the plot more interesting. I keep a pad and pencil on my bed side table, because like you, my muse pops in with ideas at odd times.

  2. Tonya, I had to respond--such a fun title. I am blown away that you've written and edited 11 books in just one year. But the fact that you have found a process that works for you is like finding gold. Thanks for such an interesting blog on the creative process!

  3. Tonya, I really enjoyed your blog on the creative process. So much good advice! I am pretty good at writing, almost every day. Edits are my big challenge. I have wonderful readers / editors, and I agree with 99 per cent of their suggestions. But then, I have to sit down and begin implementing those suggestions. *sigh* For me, that's the hardest part of getting a book ready! :-)

    Great blog!

  4. Gotta have that coffee stage. I think there is a wine stage as well.

  5. I get ideas at the craziest times ... like when I'm exercising at the 'Y' ... or in my truck on the way somewhere.
    And my beta reader(s) have often given me terrific ideas for fixes ... much like you had with your critique group recently.