Jamie Handling challenged me to come up with a metaphor describing what writing is like for me. The task was harder than I thought, but after a few hours of mulling it over, I've come up with a comparison.
Writing to me is like having a well-organized linen closet!
Makes no sense on the surface, I know; but keep reading, and I will attempt to explain. I am not an overly organized person (mental white-boards aside). I have notes scribbled here and there and stacks of mail on my counter that still need to be sorted through. I have a basket of mis-matched socks and an inch of dust on that top bookshelf that I just can't seem to reach. What I do have is an insanely organized linen closet. All the towels are folded and placed in the exact same order, the shampoo, deodorant, and soaps are all neatly arranged in individual baskets, and in the bottom right corner is a sealed plastic tote that hides all my unsightly bathroom cleaning supplies.
The above is not so dissimalar from my laptop.
When you turn it one, you'll find a slew of files, all oddly labled, some containing the exact same information minus a sentence or two. But when you open my word doc, things begin to change. Each one is carefully named, its revisions carefully labeled and contained in their own sub folders. The documents themselves are uniform -- same font, same layout, same header pages. Now open it up, and what appears to be a creative spilling of prose on the outside is actually a well thought-out plot with complete character arcs, multiple threads all complicated, all closed, and all tightly woven together.
So there you go, open the door to my kitchen or turn on my laptop and you will find a mess of crap that only I could decipher. But open the door to my linen closet or crack open one of my manuscripts and you'll find an insanely methodical, well thought-out plan.