Thank you for your thoughts! What happens with me is that I become the reality concealed deep within the character's mask I wear.
“The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on, (then) he took a face from the ancient gallery,” (Morrison, 1967). This quote from Jim represents one of two faces of Dionysius, the god of carnivals and masquerades (Dawkins, 1906). It is the tragic face, the opposite of the comic face, which are both often represented side by side in theatres. They are, in fact, as many artists come to experience them, one and the same face. This is seen in ourselves, our human condition. We have elements of tragedy, of the killer, the dramatically hateful side of pain and death. Yet, we also experience the wonderful travel, joy and laughter, the fun times and euphoric sex. This isn’t something just limited to human beings; it seems to be in every single element of existence. Our universe may be seen by some as a scary, dark place that someday will burn up or implode on itself. And yet, it is this same place that provides the flowers for the honeybee, the sun for crops, and nourishes life into existence. It is the tragic and comic face all wrapped up in one, and we, as products of it, are simply passengers in its grip of time. “Beneath the conformist there lies the Satyr,” (Nietzsche, Kaufmann, 1873).
So, as a method writer I become the character I am writing about, replete with all their personal history; all their experiences become mine, every facet of their lives is understandable and attainable to me as their symbiotic creator. At some point, the character and I cease to be separate and we become one, striving forward for the same understanding, creating our future together. I feel all their emotions, because in some way, they really are simply me. They couldn’t have come into existence without first existing in some way inside of me first. Yet, while we are one, we are also separate, all at the same time.
It is the way of all things, in my very humble opinion; it is the very essence of the universe itself. One, but separate, no true division, yet lines all the same. I see life as maybe more a continuum than a division. Of course, even the air we breathe can be philosophized away into subjective realities, so everyone will have their own viewpoints. Conflicting ideas do not necessarily mean they are even truly at odds with each other. They may have much in common, even if it's just their dissimilarities!
Anyways, I become very emotionally involved with a character’s struggles and other experiences. For instance, when writing about one such person lost in the woods I couldn’t leave the story unfulfilled to eat dinner, because they, and I, were too scared. After the situation in the story was resolved, I then sat down to a nice meal. If they couldn’t eat, neither could I!
I strongly use the method of prewriting, and much of it is done in my head before it ever reaches the outline phase. I can see the book I will create, the characters, the full outline of the tale in my mind, and actually see the words come alive to spell out the picture. This may sound strange to you, but I think in words, not images. When I think of a tree, I think of the words to describe it. Think of it this way: see the tree in your mind and now imagine its shape is made up solely of words that tell you what it is, how and what it's experienced. If you do that, you will begin to understand how I see everything in my world around me. It’s all words to me, everywhere I look.
I have done free-writing in the past, when I am searching for a new, viable method of approaching a subject that has already been done to death. It helps to have a thesaurus handy, so when I am caught using the same old tired words, I can add a beautiful garget to a sentence whilst simultaneously expanding my vocabulary in the process.
I ask a lot of questions from others before writing a novel. There are always key areas that I find I am a bit murky on, or need further philosophical guidance in. When writing about a small plane crash once I had to know what the inside of the cockpit area looked like, among many other details. I talked to several pilots to get a feel for flying and crashing, gauges, training, and wind anomalies. I have gone all over the world to do my research, and that is one of most enjoyable aspects of my job, because I become so enthralled when learning something new. I have a keen love of deconstructing what is taught in history books into something new and fresh. I also find that studying about actual places and peoples helps me understand them better, and in turn, my empathizing with a character helps bring him or her alive to the reader.
I suppose, if I had to choose which step in my writing process was easiest, I would have to say the actual writing is easiest, as the words just flow and glide like having burdens of honesty neatly rope-tied. Outlining in my head is fun too because I love imagining the world I am about to play Goddess in. I get really lost during those times!
The most difficult aspect of my work would be sitting down to write when I am ill! I came down with a bad cold a few months ago and felt like death warmed over. However, I always find that when I do break through laziness with self-discipline, I always feel better about myself afterwards. I simply view writing through illness as just another skill that I am always refining in the writing process.
In conclusion, my methods vary, yet they are all about feeling in union with my art; in this way, I return to zero. Let me explain: I feel I began with zero at birth, entered into the void with understanding, returned to zero with experience, and then, in symbiosis with my art I gave up the idea of zero altogether. This is the only way I know, despite a large vocabulary, how to express what it is like to live as a method writer. Literature isn’t meant to be just read, it is meant to be experienced, to be lived, to be killed, all in the spaces of the mind.