By: Scott “Jinx” Jenkins
I witness a lot of debate over the validity of getting a creative writing degree. One of my favorite authors, who strictly self-publishes, openly criticizes the process of university creative writing. He makes valid points that force me into unprompted head nods. The biggest issue, in my opinion, is validating creativity with a grade--creativity shouldn’t be judge. But, I was lucky; the graduate experience never hindered my creativity—or judged it—instead, I was developed and judged off my prescriptive abilities. However, the GREATEST benefit was learning my writing process—countless short stories and academic papers will do that. Therefore, I want to share with you some of the key things I learned about my writing process, and in turn—hopefully--help you learn/develop your own. I will break down my process into three categories: Time-and-space, distractions, and muse.
I adore the constant memes from WaW prompting authors to…write. Too often writers fall into a hole trying to juggle time—perhaps thinking ideas aren’t worth the time to write. Putting time aside to write is crucial; however, knowing how to utilize time is equally important. I put time aside as often as possible—unfortunately not daily—to write, but I have a full-time job and a family that deserve priority. Moreover, I am extremely dedicated to the Military, often my career takes the forefront—enter my process. I use micro amounts of time to ‘write’ by building upon characters, expanding on future book ideas, and brainstorming; all equally important to jamming out narratives. I NEED a minimum of six hours to write, that is MY process, so I forecast leave from my job to work on my books in a space that fits my needs—such as, at home or coffee shops. Managing my time-and-space increases my writing productivity and enjoyment. Basically, you should play with managing your time; don’t go in without a plan; don’t go in without understanding YOUR needs for productivity.
This one is easy; distractions suck! However, like most things in life, people just go TOO far trying to avoid distractions. I’ve learned there is a healthy amount of distraction for my writing process. When I started writing academic papers I would stare at blank pages wondering how I would ever complete the tasks. A simple paper would take hours—or days—and be a dreaded experience. But when I learned about healthy distractions my process and productivity improved. My main distraction is Facebook. Before long I was knocking out ten page papers in less than four hours—rough drafts, of course. Find a distraction that aids your mind like a stress ball, and learn to lean on structured deviation from writing. Now, I write for thirty(ish) minutes, or till my fingers stopped for several minutes, then pull up Facebook. Browsing the ‘trends’ and newsfeed offers a mental break, and I don’t return till inspiration ignites.
Creative minds need a muse. I hate the mainstream idea of a person or specific item as a muse. Instead, the source of inspiration should be fluid, always evolving, and adjusted to the project. My muse is music. With each paper, story, project, or event I create a special playlist. Even in my professional life music is my muse:
Every fitness test I take requires a mile-and-a-half run. Three weeks prior to the run I create a playlist that motivates me and lasts the exact amount of time I wish to complete—I never have problems with my run.
I applied the same concept to my writing. When I take leave to write the first hour is spent making a playlist, based on the scenes I plan to write. This playlist repeats, for hours, as I pound out narrative. Music has always motivated me, and I use that to improve the conditions for writing, and to maintain creativity. Perhaps music isn’t your muse, but you need one; find something to pull emotion, drive, and creativity from your soul. If you already have a muse, evaluate whether or not you are using it to the fullest extent to aid your writing process.
Successful writing is like physical fitness; doing something is always better than doing nothing--no matter the duration or complexity. If you are a fan of this page then you have the drive to write and want to improve. Take the next step, build upon your process and tailor your routine for success. Above all else, remember that the process is independent for each of us, so if my categories don’t fit your situation find what does. Your process should be personal, deep--almost ritualistic; if you don’t take the time to develop it becomes that much harder to achieve success.
Scott “Jinx” Jenkins
Scott Jenkins was born September 1986 into a military family. He developed a deep desire for writing at nine years old, comprising several one page stories for his parents and classmates. 'Goosebumps' and 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' solidified his desire for the darker topics. After a failed attempt at college, Scott followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Air Force. His military career is highlighted with a tour as a Military Training Instructor, two specialty codes, and several awards and decorations. The Air Force offered Scott a second chance at college, which he took full force; he holds four degrees: the highest is a Master's degree in Creative Writing—and keen desire to use it. Now, Scott spends his days fixing aircraft in the United States Air Force and spending time with his wife and children. However, he spends his nights in front of a computer carving his thoughts to page; occasionally with a glass of single malt scotch. Scott has developed several courses for the Air Force, written blogs for MaintainerNation.com, and acted as editor for MilitaryNations.com. His first book--The Devil's Assassins--was released for digital sale in July, 2016 and print in September, 2016. This was the first in his, 'A Bloody Hell on Earth' Saga which encompasses three independent series': 'The Devil's Assassins', 'The Widow Forest', and 'The Wicked'.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JinxDaClown/
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Scott-Jenkins/e/B01I4IWKLG/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
The Devil’s Assassins: https://www.amazon.com/Devils-Assassins-Book-I/dp/1535208082/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8