On Writing – The Incubation Period

This week, I started revisiting my NaNoWriMo novel. I honestly thought it would be a jumbled mess of plot holes, clichés, telling and horrifying syntax. Much to my surprise, it’s decent, which made me wonder why that is.

Like most of my stories, Oil and Boiling Water began with a creativity outburst. Like a hen laying an egg. About 1,500 words of well-rounded intrigue introduction and then stop. A plop. That’s it.
Only after this weird entry into the world did the idea start its journey. For weeks, it worked around in my brain, changing, developing, growing. When NaNoWriMo arrived, it cracked its shell and came to life, formed and able to hold its own. Don’t get me wrong; it’s fragile and needs to be nurtured into maturity. But it’s breathing.

I suddenly realized how important this incubation period is for me. The most I’ll write within that time is a rough outline. Incubation is about letting the idea live outside of concrete manifestation. To allow it to develop where no one can see it. Not even its mother. How it comes out and when it comes out becomes a great moment of bewilderment and joy.
Some ideas will never have the strength to crack their shells. Others will do but be so deformed they won’t make it to adulthood. And some ideas will take flight.

The time spent thinking about the plot is important even if nothing gets written. Once the incubation is done, the writing process becomes as natural as the birth of a quail.

What else can I say? I grew up on a poultry farm. 😉


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

4 responses to “On Writing – The Incubation Period

  • bigwords88

    I like the term “incubation period” – though it reminds me more of Alien than it does plotting out a story. Does the incubation period include sketches, doodles, notes and reading up on things you might use, or do you take a looser definition of this time?

    Oh, and neither plot holes nor clichés are necessarily bad things – there have been some very interesting stories told which take advantage of these to either make the reader work hard, or to evoke the illusion of a story being told over a long time. It’s all in the way they are used.

    • Aheïla

      *laughs* Now that you mention it, it does have an Alien sound to it. Luckily, the hatching hasn’t killed me. Yet.

      I’m not the doodle type but I do surf the net a bit during the incubation period. I’m just gathering random info to feed my embryo of an idea. I brainstorm a lot: scribbling notes on a bunch of sheet and color coding them.

      I agree that plot holes and clichés can be used to the writer’s advantage. 😉

  • ralfast

    All my stories begin this way, somewhere in the back of my mind, where in a figure out what to do with the lump of playdoo call a plot. Sometimes I use notes, other times I just write and if the story is too complicated, I break down and use an outline.

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