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How I Write

Or, more accurately, how I begin the process of moving toward my books.

Planning is a left-brain process. Creativity has to have a healthy dose of right brain. You need both. The apocryphal Hemingwayesque “write drunk, edit sober.”


Here’s a very short version of my story-generating process, which thus far has given me good results blending left and right, analytical and creative:

  1. Have an idea. This usually happens unconsciously, even against my will. How about “action/adventure scifi in the jungle.” This is what happens to your brain when it’s exposed to Edgar Rice Burroughs before television has had a chance to mold it properly.
  2. Extend it to a concept: “time traveling Indiana Jones
  3. Mull it over, sleep on it, take long drives, and come upon a premise: “what if a group of researchers discovered that the universal timeline had been corrupted and the only way to restore it was to send a mercenary back to pivotal points of ancient history to fix them — if he wasn’t killed first?” (I use Larry Brooks’ definitions of idea, concept, and premise.)
  4. Nail down the payoff scene. Usually the culmination of the storyline, but sometimes, the inciting incident. But I know this scene viscerally before I move on. Sometimes this step is #1, and I extrapolate the concept and premise from it.
  5. Write my 12 sentences.
  6. Write any scenes that come to me fully formed, ready to be written. No sense rejecting the muse when she knocks. Can happen concurrent with #5.
  7. Procrastinate. Days, weeks, sometimes months, and in one case, years. Yeah, I tried to give it up, but Procrastinators Anonymous keeps canceling their meetings.
  8. Finally buckle down and start writing.
  9. Disappear into a black hole of antisocial antilife and emerge with 50,000 words.

Your mileage, as they say . . .

6 thoughts on “How I Write

  1. looking forward to this book! Time traveling Indiana Jones.
    It’s the kinda stuff I like writing about too. No worries, no plagiarism here.

    BTW- I bought your new book, ‘That she is made of truth’.

    Support your local authors!!

    1. And that, ladies and gents, is how you make an author’s day: kind words, and a purchase.

      Funny that it’s taken me so long to come around to writing something like your books, since that’s all I read growing up.

  2. #7 is really funny, Joel! The loudest sentence for me?: “Take long drives.” That sounded like Beethoven to me.

    Thanks for putting this out!

    1. Most writers moan and gripe about avoidance and procrastination. I know it’s gonna happen, so if I have 3 hours to write, I plan to spend the first hour goofing off while I pretend to think about starting to consider writing.

      The writing still gets done.

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