Thanks to Sherryl Perry for guest posting our last entry on the blog. Sherryl has tremendous experience in the world of social media and I value her insights and expertise. We’ve now had a few posts on the importance of social media in the life of a writer, but let’s get back to the writing process.
My recent trip to South America concluded the travel research needed to complete the first edition of my upcoming book on chocolate, turning my mind to the various stages of a creative project. I thought I’d share them with you here, and hope it will ignite some interesting discussion on how an idea or experience blossoms into a life-changing creative project.
The 4 stages of an idea
1. Inspiration: I heard on the radio this morning how James Cameron’s diving experience to the site of the sunken Titantic inspired the idea for his movie on the epic ship. I had a similar experience with my visit to the Dominican Republic three years ago. My visit to that cacao plantation and seeing and tasting the contents of a cacao pod was my inspiration in writing Chocolatour. Your inspiration can come from an experience, an event, a person or culture. Artists consider the world to be their palette. The same holds true for writers. A good idea can come from anywhere.
2. Incubation: This stage is all about the birth of an idea. In my case, it took about 9 months from the time I had that plantation experience to the time that I began researching this book in earnest. Some ideas may be more like elephants and take a couple of years to be born. Some may lie dormant for even longer before the fermentation stage is complete and you move on to turning an idea for a writing project into reality.
3. Implementation: This is really the research stage that a writing project will require. Some may be quick. Because I had lived the experiences necessary for my book on volunteerism, I was able to write that book in just three months. The research stage had been lived over the preceding 25 years of my life. For some projects, like Chocolatour, extensive field (travel) research may be required. For other projects, research may involve burying your head in various archives of libraries, company records, or talking to people for as long as it takes to get the information you require.
4. Interpretation: This is the final stage in which we turn the research into a finished written product or literary work of art. In this final stage of the creative process, we interpret the research and turn our thoughts and findings into words. We write. We self edit. And then in most cases, our work is edited by a professional editor who helps polish our work. Some additional writing may be necessary if we’re going through a substantive (major) edit. But in the end, hopefully, we are proud and pleased with the final product and we are ready to share it with the world.
That is pretty much how my writing process has worked over the near 20 years I have been working as a freelance writer, but particularly in the last few years that I have turned my attention to writing books.
What about you? Have your own experiences as a writer and author been similar? Is there a particular process in your writing that you enjoy or despise?
Please share your thoughts, and then join us back here the week of April 16th for our next post on the writing life.