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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Writing is a Mystery

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 25, 2011

When you think about it, writing is a mystery. We face a blank page and words mysteriously appear on it. Where do they come from? Is the Muse sitting on our shoulder, dictating into our minds? Or is the creative process more the result of hard labor and long hours at the computer?

I’m in writing intensive mode now, sticking to my schedule of five pages minimum per day at least five days per week. This leaves me creatively drained in terms of writing blogs and all the other myriad promotional activities we have to do. Fortunately, the story is coming together nicely. It’s deviated from the synopsis in good ways as the characters and plot develop on their own. This didn’t happen at once. It took about 100 pages for me to reach this stage. I had to get to know my characters and weave the web of suspects in my head first before my subconscious mind could take over.             idea

Now I’m about 120 pages from the finish line and I’m still wondering what’s going to happen next. Will I have enough material to stretch things out to the end? This anxiety afflicts every writer. I worry about it for each book, but every time I attain my goal. It’s especially difficult for the first book in a series because the characters are fresh and the setting is untried. By the second book, you can hop into the head of your main character, already knowing where she lives and who she hangs out with and what her personal concerns are.

But now I’m only in book one, groping in the dark, plowing my way through a minefield of doubts. When I reach the end, it’ll be a great relief. It’s always easier to fix words on the page than to write them in the first place. In the last third of the book, secrets have to be revealed. Suspects have to be narrowed, until only one detectiveremains. Give away too much too soon, and the story is over. Will I need to add a new and unexpected revelation that will surprise me as well as readers? It can only come about if the Muse directs me there. My fingers type what pops into my head and I never quite know each day where that will lead me. It’s a mystery, isn’t it?                   


6 Responses to “Writing is a Mystery”

  1. Jeanne Meeks said

    Great words of wisdom, Nancy. I am sitting here wasting time with e-mails, dragging my feet. I think I’ll do as you do, just write and let me fingers take me into a new book.

  2. It helps if you set yourself a daily word count quota and then don’t go on the Internet until you finish it. I can lost on FB, Twitter, and all the sites otherwise not to mention the email loops.

  3. Budi said

    Whether you are a teacher ? I salute your writing is very good which can give inspiration for everybody .

  4. It’s funny that no matter how many books we write, we always worry about the process and whether or not a plot will work.

  5. Allison, you’re absolutely right. We should just accept that the anxiety is part of the creative process.

  6. M. E. Kemp said

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one to write by the seat of my pants. And it’s true, once you have a series character it’s easier to get into their heads. I know what’s on my nosy Puritan Hetty Henry’s mind — a good-lookin’ guy. Puritans were not prudes — they were less hung-up on sex than we are today. When Hetty sees a guy she likes she goes to bed with him, no shilly-shallying around for her. Marilyn aka: M.E. KEMP,

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