I've never really bought into the idea of the solitary writer, sitting alone in a room pounding out page after page with no input from anyone else. I'm sure this is probably pretty close to how it works for some folks, but my process has never reflected this narrative.
True, most of the actual writing is done on my own, more or less. I share a house with two other people and with two cats, so an actual private writing space is sort of a dizzy daydream, but the getting-the-words-on-the-page part happens when I'm allowed to work relatively uninterrupted. But I can't just thrown an idea at the page. The early stages of the process--of my process, at least--are things that I can't do on my own.
Part of a text message conversation with my writing group partner.
I've written about my writing group partner before. She's generally the first set of eyes for any project that I write, and she's usually the person that I send the "final" draft to before I start querying. But beyond that, she's one of the first sounding boards for my ideas.
When asked if I'm a planner or a pantser, I usually say planner. I've discussed my outlines on here before, and even shared a picture of one on the Facebook page. And yeah, by the time I'm in a draft, I have a pretty solid plan. But, if I'm telling the truth, the beginning of a project is all pantsing. Every bit of it.
The earliest stages of a project mainly consist of throwing ideas at the wall and seeing if anything sticks. And this is where my writing group partner comes in.
In the past couple of weeks, I've sent probably two or three times my usual number of text messages. It's not unusual for she and I to send each other updates, especially when our schedules don't really allow for us to meet in person. But usually it's only one or two texts--maybe an update on where we are in the work or a question about when we're going to meet next. Lately, I've been sending little tidbits about characters or the world or relationships almost as quickly as I think of them.
It started with a message about not being ready to move on to new characters and a new world after finishing Project 2016 (which I guess I could call by its title now, since I sorta revealed it above).
"I think I'm too invested in my own story," I typed.
"You're never too invested in your own work," she replied.
I might have started brainstorming my way through the extra bits of Project 2016--which, by the way, is now a trilogy instead of a single book--on my own, but something about getting tacit permission from my writing partner sparked the fire further.
I started the first step of a new project--writing down literally everything I know about the story, world, and characters. And my writing partner has been my sounding board through the whole thing.
"I'm thinking that I'll have to go back and tell earlier parts of the story."
"I'm not sure where the narrative for the first book is going to start, but I think I know where it ends."
"I've figured out who my narrators are."
Technically, I guess I could have just written down these ideas without running them by anyone--it's never been part of our deal that we have to discuss every step of a project. I could have closed myself off and just started writing.
But there's something about sharing an idea with someone that makes you--or at least makes me--get more excited about it.
For me, writing is always going to be a collaborative effort. The feeling of starting off with someone on my side makes the rest of the process less intimidating.