I’ve been writing with the goal of publication since August 2008, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that everybody has a different process. Pantsers vs. Planners, Sticky Notes vs. Notebooks, Chronological vs. Random. Everybody’s got a different method of getting a book out of their head and onto the page.
My process has evolved quite a bit since 2008. And to be honest, I kinda feel like I’ve finally found what works for me. I’m always fascinated by hearing how other people do things, so I thought I’d share my process for PULL, which is also the process I’m using now for CREEPY FACES BOOK.
It starts with an idea, of course. I write the first chapter on a whim, getting things on paper before either A) I forget them or B) they make me a crazy person. If I’m on a roll, I might go ahead and write Chapter 2, and maybe Chapter 3.
Generally, I don’t get past the first 3 chapters before I need to stop, take a breath, and do a little thinking. The “thinking” usually requires a long walk in which I consider all the paths I could take with the story. By the end of the walk, I have a pretty good idea where I want to go.
Now, please don’t think I’ve worked out all the details in ONE WALK. That is crazy talk, people. You know I’m not that organized and/or logical.
Once I’ve got a half-developed idea of the storyline, I buy a notebook with a cover that reminds me of the story somehow.
This is the notebook I chose for PULL. It has the title of the book on the front, and the months I worked on it. (April–October 2011.)
And this is the notebook I just bought today for CREEPY FACES BOOK. I have not written the title on the front because, as much as I know this will SHOCK you, “Creepy Faces Book” is probably not the title I’ll go with.
Both notebooks came from Target. They have lots of super cute ones.
Anyway, once I’ve got my fancy-schmancy notebook, I use one page per chapter to jot down important notes. Each page always starts with “Chapter X” followed by the day the chapter takes place so I don’t get lost in the space-time continuum and end up eliminating or overlapping days.
And then I write down major plot points, important character stuff, whatever I think I need to keep track of.
Below the notes, I write the word “Revisions” and leave blank space. Because in the UNLIKELY EVENT that I will have to actually change something about the book (like that ever happens), I need space to keep track of everything.
I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but there’s not much space for that kind of stuff inside mah head.
This new process seems to be working. I’m not really outlining ahead of time, mind you. Just sort of writing down what I’m doing as I go.
OH, and another thing I’m doing differently: Taking more time with the first draft. I’m only writing about a thousand words a day, and that’s on a good day. So a chapter in CREEPY FACES BOOK takes about two days to write, plus a third day to tweak, and then I send it to crit partners. Once they send it back, I go through their edits, fix what needs fixing, and don’t touch it again.
It’s slow going, but this first daft is muuuuuch cleaner than the first drafts I’ve written in the past, and I’m hoping I won’t want to punch myself in the face quite so much once it’s time for the Revision Rodeo Roundup.
How about you? How long have you been writing, and what have you changed about your process?