If you want to sell books at some point, it’s important to think about your future readers. However, I never start from that point. Later once I’ve started writing I consider who exactly I want reading the story (and therefore do not get too racy in my young adult stories, nor talk too much about the lives of older people, for example), but I can’t get so structured so early.
When I come up with an idea, before I create outlines or put anything down into the computer, the seed of the idea germinates and sprouts in my mind as snippets of story. They flesh themselves out in cinematic images. Finally an ending appears and I’m ready to get started.
All of this takes time and free-thinking. Fortunately, I walk a lot. I usually walk 45 minutes to work. I run about one hour a week or go for long hikes on weekends. I also wake up early most mornings and while playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook, my subconscious is piecing together the story for me.
This process continues through the first draft and the editing process. Ideas come and go, they repeat over and over refining themselves until they come out just right and I can create a scene, a chapter or a whole book around them.
I pondered for a while the best way explain this process to you, but in the end, I can’t say any more. It’s a relaxed intuitive process. As a former professional organizer I love having processes and systems that work time and again, but in this my muse demands unstructured chaos. Before the writing happens, the muse dips again and again into the river of ideas and pulls out things to take a look at and decide if we want them or whether they get tossed back in to the water for another time, perhaps once the idea has had a chance to grow a little bigger.
I know another writer who writes the story’s synopsis before beginning. She feels that if she can encapsulate the whole story in a few pages, then she understands it enough to turn it into a whole novel or complete short story. While I understand her way of working, I’ve tried it and it forces my muse to shut up and refuse to speak to me. How dare I try to control her like that?!
So, I go for a walk and let her dip and dive soaking herself in story, free to pick and choose what she thinks is best, without any structure to hold her back.