In Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L' Engle likened her process for writing books to cooking a meal like a French peasant cook:
When I start working on a book, which is usually several years and several books before I start to write it, I am somewhat like a French peasant cook. There are several pots on the back of the stove, and as I go by doing the day's work, I drop a carrot in one, an onion in another, a chunk of meat in another. When it comes time to prepare the meal, I take the pot which is most nearly full and bring it to the front of the stove.
So it is with writing. There are several pots on those back burners. An idea for a scene goes into one, a character into another. When it comes time to write, I bring forward the pot that has the most is it. The dropping in of ideas is something quite conscious; sometimes it happens without my realizing it. I look, and something has been added which is just what I need, but I don't remember when it was added.
When it is time to start work, I look at everything in the pot, sort, arrange, think about character and story line. Most of this part of the work is done consciously, but then there comes a moment of unself-consciousness, of letting go and serving the work.
Can you drizzle a little oil in and saute an onion today?
Some day we will say "Bon Appetit!"
P.S. My friend Krista Bjorn is experiencing the fruition of some lifelong dreams right now: a book deal, her own store, and a secret garden! Read about it here.