Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crazy Little Thing Called . . . . Process?

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Process? We don't need no stinking process!

Oh, wait, maybe we, or at least I do.

It goes kind of like this . . . my own 12-Step Process

1.) Ohmygawd this is the best idea ever! I can knock this baby out in no time. My agent is gonna love me. Oh, man, I am so excited.

2.) What was that idea again? Crap. (Twiddle thumbs. Play solitaire on line.)

3.) Okay, Judy (you know it's bad when I start referring to myself in 3rd person), this is serious. You need to write that book. Or ANY book. Sheesh. Oh, but wait. Isn't there laundry to do? And when did you last refill all the soap dispensers. DO THAT NOW!

4.) Whine to husband. Pour another glass of wine. Repeat as necessary.

5.) Trudge up to 3rd floor office. Go back downstairs to refill coffee mug. Look at headline from yesterday's NYT. Start to reach for the crossword puzzle. Slap own hand.

6.) Sigh. Loudly.

7.) Actually sit down in writing chair (amazingly novel idea!). Open laptop. Take a deep breath. Type: Chapter One.

8.) Keep typing. Ignore sound of dryer buzzing. Do NOT look at Facebook. Okay, turn airport OFF. Good girl (pat self on the back).

9.) Reread the 867 words you just wrote. Tweak them. Rewrite first paragraph again. Keep writing. Read over everything from the beginning. Smile.

10.) Glance at clock and realize you still have all those errands to run. Keep writing because you want to. Then write some more when it gets a little hard. Allow yourself to write in all caps--THESE SENTENCES SUCK. You'll fix them later.

11.) Stop for the day even though you can't wait for what's going to happen next to your characters. Spend evening thinking about your characters while appearing as though you're listening to your husband (he knows and you know he knows, but it's all good).

12.) Wake up with a great new plot idea for your characters. Ignore steps 1-6 and dive in to step 7.

Repeat as necessary until you've got a complete draft.

There. You've done it. Now you just have to revise. But that's okay. You wrote a novel! 1500 or so words at a time. Hot damn. Cool beans.

So, what's your process like?

(As I post this, I'm a teensy bit more than halfway through my latest novel. I promised my agent she'd have it by Sept. 1. Wish me luck, okay?)

I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 17-25), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook and Twitter . My first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS was published in 2006.


  1. Good luck with your deadline. And I must say, your process sounds very similar to mine, especially the bit about getting sidetracked. Oh, and the great ideas that sort of frizzle and die when you sit down at the keyboard. And of course the bit about pretending to listen to your husband while you think about your characters. Actually I think I will have to include the whole process - except for the glass of wine. If I poured myself a glass of wine I would end up asleep, not writing a novel.

  2. Good luck with the deadline. Your process sounds a lot like mine, although I skip the wine and OD on coffee. I do also pretend to listen to my hubby while pondering plots and dialog. He`s gotten used to it now and will sit patiently waiting until I return from the land of fiction to answer him.

  3. Oh, gosh, Judy, I think our "process" is eerily similar! Sometimes I wonder how anything ever gets written at all. ;-)

  4. This made me laugh so hard, especially the part about slapping your own hand. Good luck with your book - sounds like you're on track to meet that deadline!

  5. So glad to know I'm not alone. And just to clarify, the wine only gets poured in the evening AFTER I've written. During the day, it's all coffee, all the time!

  6. My process involves several glasses of wine---Cheerwine. Fun post, Judy.

  7. Were we twins separated at birth? So strange to read about myself in someone else's life.

    In the same place you are. I'll be thinking of you as I race to the 9/01 finish myself.

    BTW..God bless you for being step-mom of five. My husband is step-dad of five (26-34). And, I also teach high school English (on a good day) and hope to retire in the next two years.

  8. I knew it. You've been spying on me. Except you left out the part about downing dark chocolate in between the coffee and the wine. Where would writers be without those three food groups???

    Great post. So funny. So true. Loved it... keep going!

  9. Spectacular post, Judy!! I am, as I type this, on step 10...That's the stinker for me, keep going even when it gets hard!! Of course, this is the revision AFTER having completed all twelve steps. Some days, I think I need a 12 step program of a different variety!

    Much luck & success with your deadline!!

  10. Sounds eerily familiar! Not a big surprise though. Writers write...and procrastinate like crazy! LOL Good luck on your deadline! Crossing fingers, eyes & toes! My deadline is 9/6. Let's do this!