VLR: Question 4

Gina, what’s your writing process and how has the creative writing degree helped you with putting words to paper?

– Dillon Watson

My writing process for this novel was its own beast, as I like to say “I took the scenic route” for Jukebox, my first novel.  There were a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  I re-wrote the novel a number of times, so there were years where all I was doing was outlining and writing my heart out with the sunrise, letting Grace and Harper lead me where they wanted to go.  That said, other years, I was editing, rewriting and reorganizing like a whirling dervish.

In general, I am a big fan of freewriting. For me, there isn’t a better way to get the creative juices flowing.  The pen takes on a mind of its own.  My best ideas have come from ink (a UniBall Vision fine point black, to to be exact).  When I’m stuck, I always go back to paper and pen. That’s not to say that the computer’s job is easy; it really does the heavylifting. I back everything up twice on external harddrive and usually carry a thumbdrive in my purse wherever I go containing projects on which I’ve spent significant time.

I’m also very visual and use storyboarding techniques to organize and develop story.  I’ve got a big square on my wall painted with chalkboard paint that I mess around on all the time.

When I was just starting Jukebox, and I’d already organized the chapters with working song titles, to keep myself writing, I used my “Chutzpah” jar (see inset). I wrote all the chapter titles on individual pieces of paper, crumbled them up and tossed them into this jar.  Each morning, I’d shake it up and pull a chapter out.  I worked in piecemeal form most of the time with Jukebox.  I wanted the chapters to almost be able to stand alone.  It wasn’t until I got really far along in each draft that I started working the chapters—transitions and such—together as one cohesive piece.  I imagined myself combing the edges of each chapter, both front and back, each time I worked the beginning or the end.

I talk a lot more about my writing process in this video, The Writing Life: http://www.youtube.com/user/GinaDaggett?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/pRe1wRPn9_o

Going back to university was the single best decision I’ve made in my career as a writer. I listened to that intuitive pull, telling me I needed to grow and learn and the Creative Writing program at Pacific University was the perfect fit.

I had the passion (never a shortage of that), but lacked the gadgets, measures, and instruments in my writer’s toolbox.  There’s no better way to lose a reader than by doing, something, Really! awkward grammatically or stylistically.  I needed a foundation and my senior thesis is where Jukebox really began to take form.  Very thankful to the universe for making it so clear which direction I needed to go.

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