I wrote about how I was able to overcome writer's block in my last entry. I mentioned that first stage during which I let my mind blow out all the thoughts on paper. However, I did not write anything about my stage "zero" of the writing process. The stage "zero" is the one that grabs ideas that come to me in the most unpredictable ways. They can happen when I wake up in the morning, or when I take a shower, or read a story, drive, walk. It can happen when I overhear other people's conversations. A sentence, a word, a life situation can all lead to a complex character and, ultimately, a story.
There are days when ideas seem to flow into my head with a special gravity. I relish those days. I need them! Then I play with those ideas in my head. If they hook me, I grab my copybook and write the outline for a story. This is all I need to start the stage one of this writing adventure, and give myself confidence to put the story into words.
Outlines are to my writing what wings are to birds. As long as I have the outline, I can fly and go far away; I can discover new possibilities and create new adventures. In other words, the outline does not restrict me; it gives me some direction and inspires me to dig deeper into the complexity of my characters.
When I start writing I have a theme in mind, but once I look back at what I have written at a more advanced stage of the process, I find new themes. Writing becomes an adventure of discoveries, new insights, reflections, and interesting conclusions.
There is a secret that I have not mentioned so far. The first stage of my writing process is hand-written. I do not get to the computer until I have a first rough draft. Once I get to the word processor, a new stage begins.