I don’t remember when I started writing. There’s evidence I had written and illustrated stories from the time before my flawed memory can reach back into. One of my fondest memories was my parents reading a fragment of story being proud of how creative I was. I knew it was the stories of two videogames smashed together, and I immediately felt guilty.
In high school I got my first handful of publications, but for the next ten years I had a long period of not trying to get published. I would write only when inspirations struck. There are piles of stories from that era, most of which will never be seen.
- Don’t rely on Inspiration
The biggest thing I had to learn between before I could make a meaningful difference to having anything resembling a process was learning to write whether I was or wasn’t inspired. There are still days that are better, but being able to keep moving forward on the bad days is important. So far as anything I have resembling a process, there are only a couple of things that last across and between multiple projects.
- Patterns breed Patterns
I’ve found every single project I undertake has a basic pattern it needs. Each must be written during the same time of day, listening to the same or similar music, and so on. One of the biggest puzzles for me for each new project is figuring out the soundtrack. I determine each by a general feeling, rather than anything specific, and then use that as a major source of inspiration moving forwards. They’ve been all over the place in the past, everything from instrumentals to eights ballads, movie themes and more. This ties to what time of day I work on it—figuring out if a project is a “night” project, or one that has to be worked on in the morning.
For each project I need to get into the habit of working on it. I put myself into a specific state for each one. If I figured out a particular novel ws supposed to be worked on in the morning while lying on the couch and listening to “Walk on the Wild Side,” the entire project has to be written that way. None of that has anything to do with what the actual book will be about.
The book I am currently working on, for example, can only be written first thing in the morning while listening to the Deus Ex theme music and written at the dining room table. None of the book has anything to do with cyberpunk, with that kind of organization and responsibility, or anything like that.
One of the most important things I’ve found is important for my creative process is momentum—maintaining it and keeping it moving forward. The previous two steps are to keep that moving As soon as a project loses momentum that’s a hurdle that I need to get over. Momentum keeps my writing going on the days I find it hard. If I’ve written a thousand words a day for the last week on a project, on the days without inspiration it is easier to remember that I’ve been working on it for the last few days, that I can do this. The feeling is also easier to find again—each part tricking your brain back into the process of just resuming the work you were working on the day before.
- Enjoy Yourself
The final trick I’ve always had for my process is to enjoy the writing. Neil Gaiman once talked about the rarity of writers who enjoyed writing—most enjoyed having written, but few enjoyed the actual process of writing. I’ve always found something special to first drafts, even as much as I don’t like the process of editing. Not everyone in this world gets to sit and make things up, so it has always been my view it is best to enjoy it.
Tyler Omichinski is a teller of stories, a designer of games, and a wrangler of words. He has written for a number of game companies including FASA, Red Turban Press, Mystical Throne Entertainment, and others.
He edited the Ennie Award Nominated Little Heroes. Other publications include comics, short stories and more. He lives in the wilds of Canada with his partner and a gargantuan black dog.