When I was in college, I wrote a lot of papers. Some were academic; some were creative. The process usually went something like this:
1. Get assignment.
3. Do nothing for the duration of time allotted for assignment.
4. Do minimal research at the last minute.
5. Write paper at 2 am while my cat slept on the desk near me.
6. Turn it in.
7. Receive an A. Most of the time...
Now, I have a real job that involves writing and editing. I am expected to produce copy, often under very tight deadlines. I no longer have the luxury of slacking off until the very last possible moment... Or do I?
I find that my writing process hasn't changed an awful lot over the years. When faced with a writing task at work, I will often let it marinate in my head for a day or two before I actually start writing. During that time, I'm not actively thinking about the task, but my mind is subconsciously formulating outlines, titles, sentences, and solutions to problems. If I sat down immediately to the task, I would most likely spend a day staring at a blank page and getting progressively more frustrated. The "marinating" process allows me to come to the task prepared to tackle the project. When I actually do open that Word document, I am ready to make magic. Isn't that what writing is, really?
I wonder how other working writers face these issues. Can anyone just write on command? I think that no matter what you're writing, there's some sort of creative aspect to it, whether it's in the document's organization, tone, graphic design, or audience. The working writer's job is to take all of that into account, be creative, and complete the project on time. A pretty tall order!