The Writing Process

The most common questions writers get: Where do you get your ideas? Do you write on a computer, or do you still use pen and paper? Where do you write best? Do you write chronologically, or do you jump around in the story? Are you a planner or a pantser?

This week, I bombard you with answers to all of these questions!

IMG_0476Idea Generation
I get my ideas from all over the place. Helpful, I know. But it’s true. I could get inspired by something I read or watch, or what someone says. The last interesting story idea I got was on a ghost tour in New Orleans (see left), about ghosts from different time periods living in the same building. Probably won’t write it, but I think it’d be fun to read.
unnamedTools of the Trade
I go through phases on this one. Right now I’m on a computer phase. A few weeks ago I was on a handwriting phase. Sometimes I actually prefer pen and paper, because typing it up is like a free pass at editing. Software-wise, I use Scrivener. It’s a program specifically designed for writers and it’s pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread. (People say that about a lot of things, but they haven’t tried Scrivener so they’re wrong.) I’ve had Scrivener for several years and I’ve never looked back.
IMG_0553Location, Location, Location
I generally write on the couch. Heck, I’m writing this blog post on the couch! My desk is always a complete mess, and even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to write there. Too formal, I suppose. Or maybe I just need a comfier chair. More important than location is sound: I need music playing in the background, or people talking, or something. Otherwise it’s too quiet and I can’t think.
scrivenerTelling the Story
I have to write chronologically. I’ll get ideas for scenes from all over the story timeline, but I can’t write them out of order. My characters tend to surprise me and take me in new and better directions — which tends to disrupt my plans further down the line. And I don’t want to waste time and energy writing scenes I might never use!
unnamed-1The Age Old Question
If you’re familiar with writers, you’ve probably heard about the life-long debate between planners (who plan the crap out of their stories) and pantsers (who write by the seat of their pants). Like most people, I fall somewhere in between on the spectrum. I plan the structure of the story, using the three act structure and scene outlines on index cards. But when actually writing a scene, I like to let my right brain call the shots.

So, did I answer your questions? Feel free to ask more in the comments!

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.