I thought I would share a few words about my writing process, but when I sat down to write this post, I quickly realized: what process? Sure, I’ve had a process–in fact, I’ve probably had about twelve.
When I first set out to write this year, my only goal was to write. I slung words here and slopped words there and plugged along as quickly as my fingers would carry me. At one point, I randomly decided I wanted to have 100,000 words down by my birthday. I had seventeen days to go–and I was 50,000 words short. I spent one whole Saturday camped out at a quiet, dark back table during a conference put on by my husband’s employer, typing like mad. I hit the goal by my birthday, but later discovered a zillion plot holes and continuity errors in the work I’d thrown down so quickly.
I didn’t do any editing of my own while I was working on my first draft (that was a mistake). As you might imagine, when I finally sat down with that printed first copy, editing and revising was a total nightmare. I planned to complete my first round of revisions by the end of May. That deadline became the end of June. Then the end of July.
I had no clue what to expect as far as the amount of work that was involved. And really, when I first sat down to write, I didn’t expect to discover such an enormous universe in my imagination. When I was quiet, characters would come to me. When I was very busy, plotlines would reveal themselves. My poor husband hardly got a chance to yawn and stretch in the morning before I set upon him to noisily discuss everything my brain had concocted as I was dozing off the night before. He never once complained–he’s an unbelievably patient person.
Each month, I scribbled plans in a little notebook that goes with me everywhere. I plotted out my attack for the next month. Some months I nearly made it; other months didn’t look anything like the road map I’d sketched out. I lost time by not having a better idea of what I was doing or where I was going, so I started researching better ways to manage my time and energy.
Here’s how my process looked last time:
- I wrote all the things.
- I revised all the things.
- I re-wrote pretty much all the things because the first writing of things was wonky as hell.
- I revised all the things again–this time making note of specific character and location details for use in my story bible (more on that at some point in the future).
- I re-wrote more of the things because I got nervous about sending the manuscript out for beta reading and was pretty sure I should never have tried writing to begin with.
- I waited (impatiently) for beta reading to occur. Ditto, the first round of editing.
- I sat on all beta reading and editing suggestions/comments I got back for a week before I allowed myself to look at them. This part was hard, but I wanted some time to boost my self-esteem, in case the marks of the red pen broke me down.
- I revised all the things again–well, not really all the things. I addressed all the points I’d gotten from my beta readers and editors and reworked things as needed.
- I sent all the things back to the beta readers and editors for the second round of opinions/markups on the new things.
- I made a cover. Then I made another cover. Then I made another cover. Fourteen (no joke #writerproblems) covers later, I had a cover.
- I got all the things back and started formatting like crazy for the paperback and ebook editions.
- I got the paperback proof printed, downloaded the preview file for my ebook, and edited/reformatted all the things again.
- I sent in final versions of the paperback and ebook, and am now awaiting word that my preorder status for the paperback is GO. The ebook is GO. You can find it here.
The total process took a little better than 11 months, as my release date is set for November 18. I’d like to get two books out next year. Obviously, I need to streamline the way I work.
So, I have a whole big box of tools now, both from my own experience and from reading tips and tricks from others. I’ve got a shiny new roadmap to start my journey as I look to begin official work on Book Two in the coming weeks. (I say official because unofficial work on Book Two actually began about a month after I started Book One. Gotta love when full scenes come to you out of nowhere–and you bet your sweet bippy I scribbled them down as quickly as I could!)
I hope my process will continue to improve, but I don’t mind that it’s a work in progress. I think that’s part of the fun.
If you’ve ever taken on a writing project, what tips and tricks helped you along the way?