Here are some comments James Lee Burke had about his writing process:
I've always been fortunate - the story has always been with me. I never know where its going! I write sometimes in the middle of the night... I keep a notepad by my bed. Sometimes I get up about 4am and write.James Lee Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux novel is "The Glass Rainbow".
Shakespeare said something I never forgot, he said, "All power lies in the world of dreams" and in one sonnet he said that illumination came to him not during his sleep. He said that at dawn he woke to darkness, but illuminosity waited for him the next night. And it was out of his dreams that he fashioned his greatest poetry.
I believe that's true of every artist. That a hand other than one's own has already fashioned a story. It's in the unconscious. And it's a matter of incrementally discovering it. Leonardo said that of his sculpture - he said he never carved the figure he released it from the stone.