Sunday, June 5, 2011

Writing Is For Mad Scientists

I'm often asked about writing formulas. It never fails to make me smile. What you might not realize is that writers are actually mad scientists in disguise. There's an art to it that requires a heap of crazy, a dash of lucidity, and a whole lot of stubbornness. Here are a few of my ingredient lists. Keep in mind, I take a minimalist yet haphazard approach to writing. I never measure, I never plan, I just toss it all into my head, shake it around, and then see what happens.

* The (Im)Perfect Writing Recipe*
-Caffeine. Any kind will do, but fully loaded keeps creativity running at optimum levels. Acceptable substitutions include alcohol and hot chocolate.
-A great idea. Run this by a trusted friend first. It doesn't always sound great once it's out of your mouth. I speak from experience.
-Music (optional). I have a thing for Maroon 5 and old school hip hop. Sir Mix-a-lot was a lyrical genius.
-Time. Yes, I realize this is laughable. Who has time? Alas, you must hoard this coveted, mystical ingredient. You don't have to travel far, but it will require stealth, sacrifice and a barricaded door.
-Talent. This is debatable, but I do think a modicum of talent goes a long way toward a tasty result.
Mix these ingredients together and shake well. Add a pinch of humor and a dash of determination until you're satisfied with the finished product. Find multiple taste testers. Expect sour faces and bad feedback. If any taste testers require medical intervention due to a bad reaction, please toss it all and start again.

*The Editing Recipe*
-A thick skin. Alligator skin is not a viable substitution. It's all mental, making it nearly impossible to find.
-Time. I recommend keeping extra time around. You'll need it.
-Caffeine (see Writing Recipe for appropriate substitutions).
-A large cache of curse words, tissues and a pillow to scream into.
-Paper bag for hyperventilating is optional.
Read thoroughly, and then grab the pillow. Curse. Repeat as often as needed. Find your thick skin and keep it in place. Add generous amounts of time and caffeine. Pray your editor will be happy with the result. Curl up in the fetal position and cry if needed.

*The Character Creation Recipe*
-Go to your nearest mall, park, and/or family reunion. Take notes on every batshit crazy person you see.
-A baby name book or telephone book. Chose names.
-Read Frankenstein.
After taking notes and choosing names, piece together your masterpiece, limb by limb. Think flawed. Apply the electric shock of creativity to bring your characters to life. Reattach traits and limbs as needed. Drink more caffeine. Note--Don't create a story with characters who are all beautiful, wealthy, perfect, etc. This creates nausea in many readers.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt these recipes unless you're under the watchful eye of a trained, jaded writing mentor.

Another disclaimer: This is ALL tongue-in-cheek humor. I've been told that some people aren't sure if I'm serious or joking. I'm rarely serious because it's not as entertaining.

What are your crazy writing recipes?

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