I got a Formspring question the other day asking me what my writing process is like. I was very flattered, so much so that I didn’t even think I’d post it, because the implication that I a) have a process for anything, b) write as if I have a process for that in particular, or c) ever get anything done have not yet been proven. It seemed only right, however — since you asked — that I share all of my secrets with you, so you can be as responsible and purposeful as I am.
First things first: you don’t sit down to write without you’ve exfoliated your entire body. I personally find it impossible to uncork the bottle of genius within unless my arms are as soft as the fur of a blow-dried baby alpaca. If you can find a sandblaster, great; if not, use something pineapple-scented from CVS. When you’re finished, clean your bathtub. You don’t want little scrubby particles sullying the enamel, otherwise how can you concentrate on your writing? You’ll be thinking of the grit, hoping that you don’t forget about the fact that your bathtub is dirty, because if you forget, you might take a bath and the weight of your body will embed the sharp little grains into your upper thighs. Discomfort is the antidote to genius. Don’t forget this.
Now you’ve cleaned your tub and you’re almost ready to work. First, though, you’ll have to brew some coffee. The best coffee for unleashing creativity is brewed painstakingly, nurtured into existence bean by bean, drip by drip. If you can’t construct your own Chemex out of some leftover beakers, or you can’t find your glass-blower, then you’ll just have to manually select the beans you’ll be using and grind them with a mortar and pestle, one at a time. While the coffee brews, prepare a snack of Grand Marnier souffles and read a five-foot stack of periodicals to get your juices flowing.
When the souffles are done, you’re almost to the finish line; first, however, you’re going to have to convert all of your vinyl records into MP3’s and make a playlist for inspiration. You can’t get inspiration from digital. It has to be analog. If you don’t have the know-how to convert your records to MP3’s, spend some time reading articles on the internet, smoking pot, and letting the information saturate. Don’t rush yourself. It’s important not to rush.
While your computer is processing the music files, it would be best not to do any writing. This is called “saving up.” A million times a day, you probably find yourself thinking of a story, or a joke, or an idea, but unless you have your analog mix tape, your low-acidity artisan coffee, and your silky forearms, what good will it do you? You need to create a calm environment, a temple for stories, a warm womb to protect you from confusing your pronouns or referring to your protagonist as Ray when his name is Roy. Prepare. Prepare forever. Prepare a chicken breast in marinade. Prepare to learn to knit. Prepare to meet your maker. Prepare a blood orange martini.
Finally, it’s time to write! Unfortunately, you can’t write when you’re sleepy or punchy. You should probably just wait until tomorrow, and start the whole thing over again.