Writing isn’t always a linear journey for me. There are fits and starts, good days and bad. Sometimes I write the story chronologically. Other stories come in seemingly haphazard segments, as my focus drifts from one disjointed scene to the next.

My most productive days happen when something specific inspires me, usually a song, or photograph, or something that embeds in my subconscious. The part that seems to be unusual is that I start with how the story will end—I often envision the final scene.. Then it’s simply a matter of learning what must happen to get my people to that moment.

My biggest obstacle is often the backstory. Not because I can’t think of one, but because sometimes I become so immersed in the backstory that it becomes more interesting than the original. I can spend way too much time playing with how people became the people they are.

By now you’ve realized I’m a plotter. The thought of embarking on my story quest without a map makes me physically ill. There is, however, a downside. Sometimes I lose interest in the story if the outline is too detailed, or if I’ve sat with it too long. To stave off boredom, I then start adding things that are fun to write but not always needed for the story.

I enjoy the planning stages. That’s an issue for me too. Making notes, finding pictures to represent my characters, looking at blueprints for houses and apartments, filling out my sticky notes and 3×5 cards all make me feel productive without actually being productive and finishing the book.

Eventually I have to sit down to write. So I sit. And sit, staring at a blank page and eventually seeing the scene in my mind as if watching a movie. Writing becomes describing what I see. Sometimes the finished product is barely more than a sketch that needs major work to be complete and usable. But once in a while everything falls into place, and I have a strong scene that only needs minor changes.

Those are the good days.