Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Process of Writing

by Selaine Henriksen

When we speak of the writing process, often what is being referred to is the habit of sitting down every day and writing. It can also refer to actively learning the craft, reading what others have to say, and reading, reading, reading. I have an ecelctic taste in reading (hence the blog title and I often bounce from one genre to another, as well as to non-fiction and of course, down the rabbit hole of the internet.

One rule I always tried to keep when reading other's work, was to finish one book before I began another. I don't any more. I have less time than I used to, and if a book hasn't grabbed me (I'll give it a chapter or two) I'm done with it. Maybe I'll pick it up again at another time. Books can resonate with where you are in your life and maybe this one will affect me later.

In a similar fashion I find the creative process different from the writing process. A story I'm working on may come to a screeching halt, mainly due to the fact that I haven't solved a plot problem. I'll sit and try and force it. Literally mashing the key board, hoping something will come out that I can shape into a plot. What usually happens instead—at least for me—is that a completely new character, and their story, waltz into my head. I used to fight it—no, I must finish one story before I move on to another—but now I go with it. Start the next one. And, when that one comes to a grinding halt, as they are want to do, I go back to the first one, and seeing it with fresh eyes, the answer to whatever problem there was, suddenly appears. This way I always have something to work on and, as my stories are as ecclectic as my reading, and are very different in tone and style. When I return to something it feels fresh, instead of forced.

If I have any advice to pass on then, it's never throw anything out. You may not get back to a story until months, years even, have passed but when you do you'll see the problems with fresh eyes, with new knowledge, and experience. A story you thought was hopeless may turn out in the end to be your favorite.

© 2014 Selaine Henriksen

SELAINE HENRIKSEN has supported her writing habit by working a variety of jobs over the years, from bookstore clerk to research technologist. Currently a fitness instructor and mom to two editors-in-training, she lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where she is a member of Capital Crime Writers. She has eclectic reading tastes, as well as writing, but is a firm believer that at the heart of every good story is a mystery. Selaine's work, "My Grandmother's Attic," appeared in Buddhapuss Ink's Mystery Times Ten 2013. She blogs at

Thanks, Selaine! We're always telling authors: "Think twice before deleting a piece, or even a passage, you never know when you'll find the perfect spot for it!" Sadly, once tossed it is often impossible to recreate.
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