The Compulsive Reader: Guest Post from Sarah Fine: Inspiration Plus Calculation Equals...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guest Post from Sarah Fine: Inspiration Plus Calculation Equals...

Today I have Sarah Fine, author of soon-to-be-released Sanctum, on the blog to talk about her writing process! Sanctum is the first in the Guards of the Shadowlands series. To learn more about it, click here.

Here's Sarah!

When I was asked to write this post, I had to think carefully about how I do things, how my habits have evolved and crystallized over time. At first, I thought: I don’t have a process! I just write stuff! But then I realized that’s not true. I most definitely DO have a process even though each book I write feels a little different. When you toss all my crazy ways in a pot and boil off the detail, there’s a pretty clear pattern.

When the passion is there, I write somewhere between 20-40 pages a day. (Note: I type really fast. It’s the only way I survived graduate school while being a hopeless procrastinator.) I’ve written some of my books in a matter of days. It’s the most ecstatic feeling ever. It’s addictive. I adore it. It’s like flying. Sanctum took about eight weeks to write, but the last third of it only took me two weekends, which shows what happens when I get excited about the events that I have the privilege of weaving together.

I’m not a strict outliner, but I always have some kind of synopsis (or several pages of chaotic notes and asides). However, I rarely refer back to it once it’s written, and the story often changes as I write it (but somehow, the ending never does). Whenever I sit down to write, I re-read several pages of what I’ve previously written. I tinker with it, editing as I go. Then I skip forward and map out what I’m going to get done. I’ll write a single sentence about what happens in the chapter, and then a phrase indicating how the chapter should end. (I started to do this after reading The Hunger Games, because Suzanne Collins’s chapter endings rocked my socks off.) Anyway, I usually do this about three chapters ahead. I estimate about ten pages per chapter. I decide what events will fit into that number of pages and where the scene breaks will be.

Now that I think about it, I’m pretty calculated about the whole thing.

So … for me, I guess Inspiration + Calculation = BOOK. There has to be a little of both: I need the wild, frenetic swoop of creativity in my gut as well as the rational, well-organized scaffolding provided by my prefrontal cortex. When I have adequate amounts of both, when those things are in balance, that’s the sweet spot, the place where I write my best stuff. It isn’t always like that, of course, but when it is … well. That’s why I write.

That's awesome, Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing! Sanctum will be out on Tuesday. For a chance to win a copy of the book, fill out this form!


Steve MC said...

Only a psychologist would mention her prefrontal cortex as part of her writing routine. :p

But dang, what a great process.

Unknown said...

What you don't mention, Sarah, is just how fast you are at editing. I'm still in shock at how fast you can write and edit a book. You can finish three books in the time it takes me to finish one.

Sarah said...

Maine--I know, I know. I'm a total nerd. :)

Stina--when the passion is there, I'm a speed demon (and when it's not: Oh ... the angst ...

Dear Compulsive Reader: THANK YOU for hosting me on your blog!