The Warm Up:
Train: The engineer gets into the locomotive, turns on the power, and fires up the engine.
Writer: I create characters that I think will be interesting. Next comes a situation the characters find themselves in that will create tension and lead to further adventures. The setting is somewhere within the fantasy world I created years ago. Finally, I gather my plot notes (islands), character sketches (Traits and Tags), and a big bottle of water and head to the Storyboard. Once the islands have been laid out, I go to the computer.
Leaving the station:
Train: The locomotive winds up and builds to a roar. The train begins to inch forward. It crawls along for a few yards as the full weight of the train is taken on. Now there is some momentum and the train begins to pick up speed.
Writer: The blank screen is deafening. My mind is full of the possibilities that await the characters but, nothing is happening. There is a moment of panic and self-doubt. My hands reach for the keyboard as I try to formulate the first sentence. It has to be the best sentence of the story. The hook has to be perfect. I stop and take a drink from the water bottle. Then I remember that the first draft is always crap. My hands return to the keyboard and I peck out the first sentence. No, it’s not perfect but, it is a start. Take another drink. Back to the keyboard. Soon the first paragraph is complete and the head is getting into the game. Each paragraph that follows is easier than the last.
Coming up to speed:
Train: The train accelerates to its cruising speed. The power and momentum seem unstoppable. The cars jostle around over the uneven tracks. However, the train keeps going forward.
Writer: Once I get into a writing rhythm, woe unto any who disturb me. My mind is in high gear and the fingers begin to have a hard time keeping up. I have become the characters at his point and the story flows out like a lake draining though a broken dam. I just stay out-of-the-way and let it happen.
Coming into the next stop:
Train: The Engineer reduces the power and the train begins to coast. The friction of the wheels against the steel rails begin to slow the train down. As the train enters the station, the brakes are applied. The momentum of the train strains against the brakes because it wants to keep going. At last the train jerks to a halt and the sound of the locomotive drops to a hum. It’s not off, just waiting for the command to crank it up again.
Writer: The mind is racing forward ahead of the fingers and it sees the end of the scene/chapter/story before the fingers do. Once the mind reaches the end, it begin to coast. The fingers continue to bang away but by now fatigue is beginning to set in. The keystrokes are becoming softer and begin to slow down. The final paragraph flows forth but much weaker than before. Finally, the fingers type out the last few words and then become motionless on the keys. The Save button is pressed. The mind, however, is already working on the next scene/chapter/story. Wanting to move forward.