I am a full-time author. I give a class on fiction craftsmanship. When I offer that class, the participants invariably ask questions not about the craftsmanship but about the process I use when writing.
I tell them that, first of all, everything in my novels and short stories really did happen. I invent characters who go through what I myself have been through, and I sometimes set the stories in fictional places. But I don’t make things up. I write about the truth.
The writing of my stories and novels requires a shift between the creative mode and the intellectual mode, moving from the right brain to the left brain and back again. Achieving the creative state means that I must quiet my rational thinking (left brain) enough to allow imaginative (right brain) function to take control.
My writing process starts when there arises in my consciousness a moment or incident or memory that moves me deeply. I write down what happened in that moment. Then I speculate on how that incident came to happen—what led up to it. Next I imagine what must have followed. By the time all that is written down, I have the core of a story.
To discover that foundation incident, I sometimes need to put myself into a semi-meditative state and, in effect, allow my subconscious to feed thoughts into my conscious mind. The process feels as though an external being is communicating with me, feeding me the beginnings of a story. I see how the Greeks came up with the idea of the muses.