Author Elizabeth Strout
What I love most about going to hear writers talk is learning about how they approach their creative process. Because my process is still under construction at this point, I always feel like I might learn just the right technique that will boost my writing to the next level.
When I heard Elizabeth Strout (author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys) speak at the Dallas Museum of Art a few nights ago, I leaned forward in my seat in eager anticipation when someone else asked about her process.
She laughed. Apparently, Strout is a messy, disorganized writer. "Little pieces of paper all over her house," is how she described it. She always writes her first draft long hand, "three pages per day or three hours a day, whichever comes first." And she edits as she goes along. The most amusing thing she said is that she recently found another short story that might have been included in Olive Kitteridge but she'd lost it!
Her method is probably the exact opposite of most plot-driven, thriller writers out there, most of whom work quickly and with an outline. It's definitely an inefficient process - her latest book took seven years to write. But, it works for her and has allowed her to produce beautiful writing, and memorable characters, as well as a Pulitzer Prize, for Olive Kitteridge.
Since my brain probably looks like Strout's house - with little pieces of paper fluttering around covered in character and scene ideas - I don't think I will try that technique. But I may try writing more first drafts longhand. There is something to be said for writing the old fashioned way!
Julie Richie is a mother and writer who was inspired to write by the book Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance C. Greene when she was eleven years old.