I’ll admit it. I’m obsessive about revisiting my writing process after each book I publish. I did it in this post after Black Wolf opened for pre-orders and again here after Born Wolf came out.
Now that Blood Wolf is on the market, I’m taking another look at how I write.
Blood Wolf was, as I expect each book to be, an entirely new beast. But one nice thing? I’ve learned a lot along the way. My personal craft has shifted from absolute newbie to slightly-more-knowledgable beginner.
I doubt I’ll ever consider myself much more advanced than that when it comes to writing. Sure, there are techniques, tips, and formulas you can use. But in the end, creative writing is just making shit up which means you’re starting fresh with each thing you write.
That’s beautiful and scary. Especially for someone who likes to be in control and know things. The rules are there, but they’re always bendable. Hell, they’re breakable. It’s your art. No one can tell you what works for you, even if it doesn’t work for them.
Now, though, I’ve started to think more technically about the craft of writing as I work. Ever read that beloved *show, don’t tell* Chekhov quote?
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
I struggle hardcore with the show, don’t tell rule. But I also catch myself when it comes up and I have a chance to think about my word choices. That’s progress from my previous cluelessness. Yay!
So, how did my process stack up this time?
It took me 5.5 months to generate Born Wolf. I intended to take a break after its release, but my brain wouldn’t let me. It came out on May 26, 2017, and by May 29, I was outlining again.
Blood Wolf came out on November 17, 2017 – just a day shy of the one-year anniversary of Black Wolf. That means it took just under 6 months from start to finish. That also means I published three books in one calendar year. As an indie author doing it all myself, I have to say: that’s not too shabby at all.
Here’s what my process looked like:
- From May 29 to June 16, I outlined everything. I started by using Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland as I explained in this post. I worried initially about feeling boxed in by the Weiland’s process, but ultimately, it made a huge difference in my comfort level following Draft One. I generated a wealth of resources that I used as I edited and revised my follow-up drafts. If you’ve never followed Weiland online, you’re missing out.
- Then, I worked with the resources you can find in my Hatching A Plot post. Outlining, even in the broadest way, has been the biggest factor in reducing my book release timeframes. I end up with a wide-open view of the whole story–but I also leave plenty of room for the plot to unfold freely. By setting up checkpoints and scenes I’m excited to write, the writing flows naturally from spot to spot.
- I wrote Draft One in June and July. I completed the whole damn thing in 22 days because I’m a crazy person. I talked about it here. I wrote an average of 5600 words per day, with two 12,000+ word days. Did I mention I’m a crazy person?
- I edited and revised my first draft from July 20 to August 18. This is an area where I still need to improve. I’m a foul and crotchety personal critic and I destroy so much–I always worry I’m just making it worse. It’s so much easier to make changes once I’ve heard from my beta readers. Before that, I find it excruciating to make decisions. What if I’m ruining this part by changing it? What if I should have spent a day reworking that scene instead? No, wait, I love that scene. Ugh. The worst.
- I handed a rough copy off for Beta Round One in the middle of August. The draft that went out was as rough as I’d allow. I found this worked really well for Born Wolf and was pleased with the results again this time. Requesting a general, rather than hyper-focused, critique from my first round eases a lot of my revision pain. I feel more comfortable revisiting the whole novel once it’s been read and ripped apart by others, I guess. Again, this was a broad question of “Hey, do you see any glaring plot holes or terrible inconsistencies?”
- While the manuscript was out for Beta Round One, I started working on cover design. This was a great use of my time. It took my focus off the book content and gave my brain a vacation from the plot. When I got the manuscript back, I had fresh eyes because my creative energy had been diverted elsewhere for so long.
- Here’s where I mention that we moved in August.
As if writing/editing/designing/formatting/publishing a book didn’t consume enough of my time, I also did my share of the packing/cleaning/home-buying/moving. Yep, the day I handed the book off to Beta Round One, I also packed our entire master bathroom. Fun times. By the end of the home packing, the only things left out were our electronics. On the floor. I was damned determined to get this book done.
- From this point forward, I worked at break-neck speed and my usually detailed process notes went off the rails. I know I went through two more rounds of beta reading, editing, and revising before the manuscript went to the final editor. One new thing I tried was listening through each chapter with the text-to-speech reader on my Mac. I’d seen this recommendation someplace and gave it a try. It really did help! I found a lot of errors and I got some giggles over pronunciation, especially Aveleiyn as “Av-uh-LIE-uh-ee-ee–een” (pro tip: it’s Av-uh-LAYN).
- And just like magic: when all was said and done, I formatted the book in Word for the paperback version and in Vellum for the ebook file. Then I uploaded to Createspace and KDP. Easy-peasy.
I mentioned before that I planned to release my books on other major retailer platforms. I decided against this in favor of keeping up a steady pace. As I finalize my goals for 2018, that might change.
When I wrapped Born Wolf, I thought I was going to set a goal of releasing three books in 2018. At the time, I meant those books would belong in The Black Wolf Series.
That’s not going to happen.
As I’ve moved forward with work on Book Four, I’ve realized how careful I need to be with it. No spoilers (if you’ve read Blood Wolf, you can guess) but it deals with some issues. Tough issues I’ve personally experienced and am finding difficult to address. Yeah…this one is going to take some time.
I do still plan to release at least three books in 2018, but they’ll be a little…um…different. If you’ve been following along, you know I’m talking about my foray into the realm of the erotic short story. I’ve got four drafted so far and plan to finish another eight before December ends. Just a heap of quickies I can edit and release under a new pen name next year. It’s nice to have options (insert naughty wink here).
So…I guess that’s that. I’m a writer. That’s my process. Excuse me while I congratulate myself on a damn fine year.
Now it’s over to you! Are you a writer? How has your process changed over time?