I’m currently in the process of writing some picture books. I started writing them at different times and they’re at different stages of completion but this last week I’ve been working on all three of them at once. It’s been making me reflect on my creative process because although all three books are in rhyme and are a roughly similar length, writing each of them has been a very different experience.
The first book came at me out of nowhere. I wanted to write something for #ThePrompt over at MumTurnedMom and the theme that week was ‘Books’. When I sat down to write, the whole story appeared in a couple of hours. It just flowed and without any real effort I had a story about a girl who wouldn’t read. Of course, I’ve spent masses of time since editing it, re-editing it and editing it again but the entire story and structure basically happened in that first couple of hours of inspiration.
Book two actually came off the back of book one. There were a few lines (now edited out) where the girl read “Her latest book about a magic biscuit cook, whose fresh, enchanted custard creams were sure to give her sweetest dreams.” The lines didn’t make the cut but I rather liked the idea of a magic biscuit cook and decided to write a story about one.
This time round I had a reasonable idea of what the story would be before I started writing it. I also made a deliberate decision about the meter of the rhyme as I wanted it to be different from my first book. The story and the characters came into focus as I wrote it, but getting the first draft down was a lot harder work. I had to think about it and work it out and once I’d finished it I had several versions which were quite different in terms of length and story complexity. I’m currently trying to work out which version I prefer.
Book three is a whole different beast all together. The inspiration for this was my son responding to a question with “I’ve absolutely no idea”. For some reason this triggered in my head the line “He’d absolutely no idea if aliens can even hear.” which in turn made me think ‘I know, I’ll write a book about a boy who meets some aliens!’ Of course the idea is hardly earth-shattering in originality so I then had a big think about what sort of book it would be (humorous but thoughtful) and what precisely would happen during the story in terms of key events and character development. At this point a few rhyming couplets popped into my head which gave the story its rhythm.
That was about two months ago and I’ve been writing it on and off ever since. It’s still nowhere near complete. It’s a very slow process (given the length that the finished piece will be) and I’m finding it really tricky. I’ve found myself wondering if it would be better in prose rather than verse… but then I’ve got little stretches of it that I love because of the rhythm and the pace the rhyme gives them. I have a funny feeling that if I can get this one right it will be the best of the three but I have no idea if I can pull it off at all.
So there you have it: three little stories with three very different creative processes.
Do you find your process differs between projects? What brings about the changes? Do you have a preferred way of working?
I’m sharing this with Friday Fiction as it’s the closest I’ll get to sharing extracts from any of these books! Also linking to the Wonderful World of Writing at Virtually All sorts.