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Incubating and the Writer’s Cave

October 28, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as ,

I tend to be reluctant to sit down in front of the keyboard to write until the deadline is breathing down my neck. I always thought this was procrastination, but I read an article a little while ago that makes me realize that I’m not a procrastinator. I’m an incubator.

What’s an incubator? Someone who thinks about the story for a long time—incubating it—until it’s ready to come out in one huge burst. My subconscious works on the story as I go about my ordinary life, as if I’ve put a stew on the back burner to simmer and am adding ingredients to it all day long. Then suddenly the stew is done and the story needs to get on the page. That’s when I crawl into my writer’s cave, sit down and start writing. Am compelled to write, just like contractions compel a mother to push during childbirth.

The writer’s cave is more mental than physical, though it does help to have a physical space where you can retreat to get the work done. This might be an office or corner in your home or maybe somewhere like Starbucks or the bookstore or wherever works for you. It helps if the cave is the same physical space every time, signaling your brain that when you go there, it’s time to write. I also end up clearing my calendar of all optional social engagements so I can just crawl into the cave without fear of interruption and give birth to my story.

I would love to be one of those people who plot out a book and then sit down every day and write X number of pages or such-and-such a scene, but that isn’t how I work. I need all those weeks to let the story form in my mind so it comes out organically in one long burst. Once I reach that point, I am able to accomplish a substantial amount of pages per day. Since the story is fully formed, I also tend to do very little rewriting before I send in the book. This is what works for me. It’s my process. What’s yours?

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