Monday, 27 April 2009

The Writing Process - what's your recipe

In our house my mother had a dish she called HOTPOT. Which in winter was wonderful because it always seemed to come out on those days I struggled from school or work in the dark and the rain. Warmed from the outside by the fire, I was then warmed on the inside by the HOTPOT.

Sometimes visitors who joined in the meal asked for the recipe. To which my mother was rather vague. So one day when a visitor had gone I asked her why she was so vague. "Well it’s this and then that plus a pinch of something else" was her reply.

"And it depends what day it is and what the butcher has… " she trailed off with a wave of her hand. I never did get the hang of making it the way she did though I watched her make it often enough and knew the sequence that she followed, chopping up meat and vegetables and so on.

As a cook myself now I understand her challenge in being precise. And as a writer I have a sequence, a process that works for me. If you asked me I would say I follow it logically. But like my mother it can be influenced by so many things that the results can vary wildly.

For example, if I start off by researching a company I’m writing for or about that sets off certain ideas in my mind. Then I might look at their competitors and other ideas strike me. So I go back to my previous research and add in a few different notes.

When I’ve amassed a bundle of notes, my raw ingredients so to speak then I start to cook it up. And I’m sure you know what it’s like when you’ve written the text, checked it off and for some gut feeling you know you need to add just a pinch of something else.

So although I can lay out my process, and I do often for other writers, what I can’t lay out for them is that extra ingredient that binds everything else together.

How does it work for you?

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