Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My process

It's not like I don't know that I have an easier time getting to the heart of things when I talk things out. My husband used to tell people that I was an "external processor." Actually he threatened someone with it. Just a local vendor that was screwing with us, but he basically said that we lived in a small community, that I had a lot of friends and that I tended to talk. It was apparently all HE needed to say. Whatever.

Anyway, I was trying to decide what the first scene of the new proposal I was working on would be. I had two good candidates. I'd been turning them over in my head and I'd half decided that I would write both of them and then see which one felt right. Then I started talking to my son about it. After just a few minutes, I realized he was totally right. I needed to start with Melina's search for her werewolf friend, Paul, and not in spin class with her mother. I congratulated Alex on being ever so perspicacious and thanked him for helping me.

He laughed, pointed out that he hadn't actually said anything and then reminisced about several other items that I'd done exactly the same thing. He then returned to his usual state of ignoring me and watching the basketball finals.

So apparently that's my process. What I don't get is, if I don't need the other person to say anything, why can't I get the same clarity by just saying it out loud to myself? And if there's no one there to hear it, why can't I just think it through? Why do I have to subject the people I love the most to my meandering half-formed thoughts? And what is it about it that makes me thing that they've give me the answers?


Sinead M said...

I used to think I could change my process, find a way to write a really shiny rough draft by planning better, scene outlines, plot diagrams and all that happened was I changed the scenes, or what should have been two scenes, was half a scene.

Now I know I need the beginning, major plot points, the end and what the through line is, and then I need to discuss only what I'm prepared to talk about, nothing more.

My husband openly groans when I tell him I need to work something out. Because he has to be so careful about what he offers.

Simone St. James said...

I'm the opposite! I can't talk about it at all while I'm working things out. The quieter I am, the better stuff I come up with. This goes more easily on my loved ones, except that I'm eerily silent sometimes :)

Eileen said...

LOL! They're already used to me staring off into space for indeterminate amounts of time.

Maureen McGowan said...

I think things out by saying or writing them, too. I don't necessarily need an audience for the "talking". I can do it on paper (freehand) or aloud to myself. I do get funny looks when I try this in public. :)

Often when we have DWT or just go for walks, one of us will figure out a problem while asking the question... I think the organization of thought it takes to verbalize a problem can sometimes reveal the answer. (And a hunt is a way better way to start a book than a spin class conversation. :)

Maureen McGowan said...

PS. When I first started reading this, I thought it was Molly. (I was on a train yesterday, so today feels a bit like Monday.)

I laughed out loud when "Molly" said she discussed it with her "5 year old" son. :) But it totally fits with my theory that it's sometimes about asking the question, not getting an answer.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Oh my gosh - it is about asking the question!!! And I am a very vocal brainstormer - I have to talk it out, or have someone tell me what I need to do. But most of the time in the process of formulating the question I get the answer.

Glad your son could help!

Eileen said...

Well, when you put it that way, Maureen! Of course a hunt is better than a spin class.

I think you hit the nail on the head, though. Organizing my thoughts enough to ask another human being a question, even if that human being has next to no interest in the question, often does trigger the answer.

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