Step 1: Wake up at 3:42AM with an idea. Decide not to write it down because your notebook is in the other room and if you go get it, you'll be too awake to fall asleep again and then you'll have insomnia. Convince yourself that it's OK to go back to sleep without writing the idea down because you'll remember it in the morning.
Step 2: Don't remember it in the morning. Remember just enough to know that you lost a superbly awesome idea. Beat your head against the wall.
Step 3: Never fear. Said idea will come back to you at another, even more inopportune moment, like in the shower. This time you'll be ready with a notebook. Write it down.
Step 4: Spend precisely 12.667 days obsessing over how awesome said idea is and how you can't wait to write it. (Number of days may vary depending on the awesomeness quotient of the idea.)
Step 5: Sit down in a frenzy and write exactly 613 words (give or take), exploring said idea. Read it over. Decide that you're the worst writer ever and you'll never be able to capture such an awesome idea on paper. Beat your head against the wall. Again.
Step 6: Read a novel or two, or twelve. Obsess about how amazing those books are and how unbelievably sucky your writing is and how you might as well do something else with your life, like collecting rare edible fungi.
Step 7: Have a good cry.
Step 8: Read what you wrote again and find one moment, one turn of phrase that's not completely awful. Decide you're not utterly hopeless (just 99% hopeless). Try again.
Step 9: Fall in love with a character. Start seeing the world through her eyes and realize you kind of like living in her head. Decide you'll stay a while.
Step 10: Stop obsessing about the idea and start obsessing about your character. Make long character bios for her and all her family and friends (even if her family and friends have nothing to do with the story in the first place). Write outlines, mind maps, charts, whatever it takes to keep your ideas straight. Sleep with your notebook under your pillow.
Step 11: Practice some stealth writing. Hide in a dark corner of a coffee shop and write. Jot down ideas while riding the subway. Talk to yourself. Listen to the voices in your head. Write down everything and don't look back.
Step 12: Repeat Step 11 and keep moving forward until you get to the end of the story. When you hit a wall, remind yourself why you fell in love with this character and this story in the first place. When all else fails, ask your muse to send you strength to carry on.
Step 13: Carry on.
This post is part of the "What's Your Process?" Blogfest, hosted by Shallee McArthur.