Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Writing Process

Woman with Red Fingernails Typing on a Laptop
Photo by Pexels

Lately more and more people have been asking me about my writing process. This interest probably stems from my comments about editing. Friends, family, and sometimes even strangers are intrigued. They want to peek inside my brain to see what writing is like for me. It's crazy.

I'm simultaneously puzzled and flattered by the curiosity. Let's be frank: I'm nothing close to Stephen King. No matter how small-time I feel, I'm happy to oblige. Whether I'm writing a blog post, a short story, or a novel, this is basically my writing process.

1. Inspiration. The madness starts when an idea falls into my head, seemingly from out of nowhere. Sadly there isn't an Idea Store. Whenever an idea comes to me, I record it and work on fleshing it out. Fun fact: I don't outline.

2. First draft. I get this sucker down as fast as I can. When it comes to first drafts, it's okay write crap. Even if I feel like what I'm writing is abysmal, I focus on getting it down somewhere. You can fix a bad page; you can't fix a blank one. I can write the first draft of a blog post in half an hour, a shorty story in an hour, and a novel in six weeks.

3. Cooling off. I don't have much of a cooling off period for blog posts. For short stories, I tend to wait about a day before diving into revision. For novels, I can take anywhere from one to three months. I like to distance myself from the material. The more objectivity I can approach it with, the better.

4. Read through and notes. This part is painful. By this point I've forgotten how awful my first draft is and am not looking forward to reminding myself. Once I've printed my work out or exported it to my Kindle (so I'm not tempted to edit as I read), I go through it in one sitting and make note of what needs fixing.

5. Second draft. Armed with my notes and a plan of attack, I dive headfirst into revision. Sometimes this means minor changes. More often than not, it means a nearly complete rewrite. The YA novel I'm editing at the moment is the latter. It's a struggle.

6. Rinse and repeat. Keep going until you can't edit anymore. When it's finished, you'll know. Reward yourself for your hard work and work on publication!

The time it takes me to complete a project may vary, but on the whole, this is my general writing process. Feel free to try out my system for yourself. Remember, however, that the ideal writing process is whichever one works best for you.

What's your writing process like? What are you currently working on?

10 comments:

  1. That seems like a well-organised plan of attack for writing :D

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  2. A lot less organised, at least, it feel like a mess some days! :D

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  3. As long as it works for you! That's what's important.

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  4. I write so slow, tho I'm working on that! My plan for Nov & Dec is to try and write a MG in that time frame. We'll see! And I'm a loose outliner. Don't really use them until I find I'm stuck. :)

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  5. My first five steps are like yours with two exceptions:

    1) Sometimes my first draft ends up in a gnarly unfinished pile. I blame my inability to properly outline. This causes my characters to run away with the story and paint themselves into some unreasonable corners.

    2) My cooling off period for a novel is anywhere from a few months to.... uh... forever. Sometimes a nice bit of inspiration turns into crap. It happens.

    My step six is the same as yours except I've broken it down into another four sub-steps:

    6.1) After I've finished implementing all my notes from the first pass (see steps four and five, where the goal is mainly to catch all the really big ugly stuff that's wrong) I go through and find every instance of "tell" that exists and make sure I've done everything I can to "show" instead. If I can't do that? CUT IT!

    6.2) Fix all my stupid tense switches (my Achilles heel).

    6.3) Adverbs. Get the fuck rid of 'em.

    6.4) Copy edits.

    Add in a step 7 (beta readers), step 8 (post beta reader edits), and voila!

    For blogs I just wing it from some random idea, start writing sometime Sunday morning, edit on the fly over the course of an hour or so, check my images and decide if I'm okay violating someones copyright or if there's some stock photo or Wikipedia commons image that will work. hit post, make sure G+ auto posted the link (I am on Blogger), send out link to my author page on Facebook. share that link to my wall from my personal account, then tweet it out to my followers on Twitter.

    I have a tendency to use too many words when only a few will do. I'm working on it. Thanks for the post :)

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  6. I don't outline, either. Your four sub-steps intrigue me - I'll have to try them out soon. Adverbs are the bane of my existence. I like you. You can stay. :) Also you just made me realize I've never gotten beta readers. I should work on that.

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  7. Glad I made the cut! My daughter is a 12 year old girl who loves to read more than anything else. She'll happily read anything you can throw at her :)

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