I’m an Incubator

Hello! Hello! Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

I’ve just come off a whirlwind tour of promotion: interviews, blog posts, advertisements, and my first ever author chat!

Here’s what I’ve learned about myself in the process:

1. I don’t like to answer the question “tell me about yourself.” I get all oogy just thinking about it. Here is what I said about my least favorite question.

2. It’s hard for me to answer “what inspired you to write this book?” – see my post on Julia Rachel Barrett’s site – You Want to Know What?

3. Devlin Ward makes a mean frozen mocha. If you haven’t met Devlin yet, he’s in Mystic Ink and he crashed my visit to Penny Watson’s Martini Club.

Show me the ideas!

4. I’m an idea incubator.

An incubator? Does that mean I harbor germs and diseases? Maybe lay eggs?

Not exactly. But the egg analogy is close. An idea is potential. Like an egg, you can use it to make numerous things. And like the whole chicken vs. egg question, many writers like to debate -plotting vs. pantsing?

There are a few rebels out there like R.C. Bonitz  who calls his method – half-pants plotting. Best of both worlds!

Over the course of answering dozens of questions and creating blog posts, the most common questions (besides #1 and #2) are about the mechanics of writing.

Everyone wants to know the process of going from idea to page. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that if I think too hard about how I write, it messes me up. So when people ask – how do you write?

My answer – I just do it. Really.

So that would make me a pantser, right?

Nope. Everyone knows by now that I don’t write without a plan in place.

Yes, this is delicious!

I just “do it” because I’ve spent weeks or months, incubating ideas. I ruminate, percolate, stew, imagine, mull, fantasize, whatever word fits the bill. Then I start the process of outlining, followed by writing.

Hence – the incubator.

I think most writers are idea incubators. Our methods of how we get those thoughts on to the page may differ (plotting vs. pantsing), but we all think about the story before we write it down.

Sure, some may sit in front of their paper or keyboard and be possessed by the Muse at that moment and bang out some pages or even chapters. But to complete a novel, you need more than a flash of inspiration, you need incubation.

So what do you all think? Is this a half-cooked idea like a soft-boiled egg? Or does this theory have merit?

20 thoughts on “I’m an Incubator”

  1. I love it!! I’ve often called it “ruminating,” but incubating works better. It implies growing something, making something. (rather than chewing cud – lol!) Good post.

  2. Absolutely, Casey. Even though I’m more pantser than plotter, I “think” about the story almost constantly before I write anything. It drives me abt nuts sometimes, but I’ve come to enjoy the muddle of creative thought that is a precursor to a project. Throughout the process, ideas are percolating, conversations are happening between characters, and the plot is evolving…all in my head. It gets very crowded and noisy in there, but nothing goes on the page without a certain amount of “incubation.” Cool post!

    1. I swear I spend more time actually thinking about a story than writing it. I love the conversations that pop into my head. That snippet I posted yesterday on my blog (Lucky Seven) is from one of those times! I still have the sticky note that I used to scribble the conversation down.

  3. I call this “getting a kernel”…..which is my botanical analogy for the same thing. I get a “kernel” of an idea—-I plant it, it grows and develops, and sometimes it turns into a story.

    It’s exhausting doing all the promo stuff. You did great!

    1. Hi Penny! I like that analogy too!

      As to promo – I have so much to learn. Hopefully, by the time The Undead Space Initiative comes out, I’ll have a better handle on what I need to do!

  4. Hi Casey! What a fun post! I enjoyed your inters, too, by the way. For not liking those questions, you certainly handle well. I plot, outline, scene map, checklist, and ultimately crap two thirds of my brilliant plans. Once I create the characters and set them on the road, they tend to do what they want. That’s cool, though, because sometimes it works :).


    1. Hi Greg! I’m glad you liked my interviews! I have other post about letting characters choose their path (I am the Author Goddess!) I believe that you need to listen to them (most of the time) because sometimes they know better than you were the story needs go. Other times, not so much, but you can always save those scenes and use them later (as author bonus material!).

  5. Hey, Casey,

    First, I want to say that I think you did great with promo, and good for you!

    Second, I love the “idea incubator,” because that’s really what it is, no? Growing an idea until it becomes something great.

    Awesome post. 🙂

  6. Incubator. Love it. I just got the “where do you get your ideas” question yesterday. I bit back a lot of smart ass remarks. Must figure out how to use the word “incubate” in my prepared, non-smart ass response in the future.

    1. Thanks Toni! (love the kitty picture!). I hear you on the smart ass remarks, because that is how I really want to answer. I know it better to be professional (but not as much fun!).

  7. I refer to your “incubation” process as stewing a story. For me, I think about it for a while and let it stew around in my head, which can often times be a dangerous place to be. I know how I want the story to go, meaning I know the beginning, middle and end. Then I just sit down and let my fingers do the walking … so to speak. But as you said, every writer has his/her own process. This is generally what works for me.

  8. Here’s how I look at it… My entire life has been an incubator. Everything I’ve done, everyone I’ve met gives me ideas. So yes, you can plan and yet not plan at all. 🙂

    1. Ah, yes life experience – a writer’s best friend. And, I would say, all the experiences we witness of others too! So friends, family, and strangers – you are all fodder for the writer incubator! Muwhahaha!

  9. I am embracing the half- plotting, half- pantsing method as of late, and it seems to be doing the trick.

    And I agree…the hardest question for me is tell me about yourself.

    1. Yeah, I don’t like that “tell me about yourself” question. You encounter it everywhere, not just in writer land. When we have to do at work, I’m always scrambling to think of what to say.

  10. Casey, love this one. Forgive me, but the first thing that entered my mind, “what a great shot of a rooster. I could use it for a painting.” I look at everything like that, places I visit, people I see, life. And, my daughter in law who wrote “A Diary of a Pet Turkey.” But my writing is taken from my outline, or by the seat of my pants. Is that Bonitz’s pantsling? When I sit down with the intentions to write, the writing happens. Sort of like poetry, you don’t know what’s in your head, but it just comes. It is weird. I like to plot though.

    1. Feel free to paint the rooster. That photo is mine. I took it at Old Sturbridge Village. I think I too, fall into Bob’s half pants plotting. Even with the level of planning I do, I still have to pants parts of the plot (otherwise what fun is writing!).

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