Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Writing Processesssses

Blogfest time!!  Since I'm doing a post today, I probably won't do one tomorrow but come back Friday for my rad Aspiring Author interview with Michelle Merrill who will also be doing an Aspiring Author interview of me on her blog!  I know, hurts your brain to think about it doesn't it?  Kinda like the space-time continuum.  It's SO awesome and cool and mind blowing that you can't possibly wrap your  mind around it.

Shallee McArthur over at Life, the Universe and Writing created this awesome-sauce blogfest.  We are to give our pearls of wisdom and insight as to what our writing process is all about.  Get ready to be blown away peeps, cause here is the infinite wisdom that is my writing erm...process (take a drink for every time I say "writing process" on this blog...there's 4 already if you count the title):

Uh, I don't really have one...

Well, not one that's tried and true and works like a charm every time.  Because I've only written one book.  So my writing process is still being sorted out.

But here's the gist of it (my writing process, I mean)

Once I have an idea in my head (and that can come from anywhere...usually it comes while I'm mindlessly scanning books for an hour and half to ship out to various libraries across the state) I have to write it down or else it'll float away to that place only awesome ideas and dreams go when you don't write them down.  And you can never get them back.

Then I'll sit down to write out everything I know about my characters.  I usually have my main character- she comes to me first.  Her personality speaks to me, and I start to form an image in my head.  Next comes the love interest and the conflict.  I write down names, places, possible world names and city names, the villain (or whatever the antagonizing force is), descriptions of the characters and finally a loose plot of what my story will be about.  During that time I will add to it as things come to me.  With my current WIP, I had a notebook of stuff quite a while before I even started writing it.

So then I sit down to write.  As I write, I take breaks to look up words that will give me ideas of what kind of new words I can create for my world.  For my current WIP I used a lot of Irish words and changed them just a bit to make them my own.  I drew a map of the world, and came up with names for the cities.  I didn't come up with a name for my provinces and world until I was about 25k into my book.  I put words like WORLD and CITY 1 in and then when I figured out the names I did a find/replace.

I didn't do an outline, I just had my general idea and order of conflicts written down.  This is where I'm a pantser.  I just wrote as I went, and ideas and conflicts came to me as I wrote.  I then would write that down on my notes sheet so I wouldn't forget.  I also have a running list of names I use so I don't use them again.

Then as I go deeper into my story I have to start making an outline (probably when I'm about 3/4 of the way through, and nearing the major climax).  Because my characters start finding things out, and figuring things out and I need to write down when this all happens so I don't get confused as to who knows what and when.  I also write a timeline, what happens on what days and how many days have passed so when my character goes "we've been traveling for 5 days!" it really is 5 days and not really 7 because I haven't been paying attention or something.  Readers will pick up on that, and those are the worst continuity errors. 

I also somewhat edit as I go, so it takes me a long time to write.  It took me about a year and a half to write my current 94,000 word WIP (I am leaving out about 6 months where I didn't write because we bought our first house- totally craziness).  But I spend a lot of time thinking and staring at my screen and coming up with the best possible sentence, and best possible paragraph, and best possible dialogue.  I don't just write willy nilly, burning a hole through my erm..keyboard (although my keyboard has burnt me at times...stupid laptop..).  I really really wish I could crank out that sucker in 3 months like some people.  Okay, I guess I also have like, a part time job, a 5 year old and tv shows that I religiously watch.  Oh and a hubs..did I forget him?  So that takes up some time too.

I'm hoping as I write more novels, it'll become easier for me to write faster and write more frequently.  And I can't tell you that this writing process will work for my next novel.  It may be completely different.  I may plot the whole thing out, outlines and all.  Or I  may just wing it and see where it takes me.  I think each person's writing process can change and morph so it suits the author AND the novel. 

So, you nice and drunk now?  Shhh, I won't tell your boss you've been slipping sips each time I say "writing process" from the flask you bought at walmart in the liquor aisle from one of those pull off things where there's like 10 flasks just hanging there.  Next to the packages of straws.

Go check out Shallee's blog to find out some of the other awesome bloggers' writing processes.  I am sure theirs will be way more coherent than mine.

For the record I said "writing process" 11 times including the one in this sentence.  YESSSSSS!

(okay 12 if you count the label)

24 comments:

Amy said...

I think it's okay that you take your time with writing. I mean. It's one thing to pump out a novel in 3 months... but if that novel is total crap, it was 3 wasted months. So I think it's commendable that you take your time!

Shallee said...

I agree with Amy-- taking the time is fine! Sounds like you've got a good working process that helps you turn out a quality story. Thanks for sharing!

Summer Ross said...

It sounds like you have a good start to a process, which will only become more clear to you as you write more. You are right too if you don't write the idea down it goes to outerspace.

Michelle Merrill said...

Awesome! Isn't it true that you can't get back an idea that you didn't write down? I hate when that happens. Thanks for sharing your writing process. I'll be back Friday for sure :)

Lisa said...

I'm super slow, too! I've been pushing myself to go a little faster or at least be comfortable with not perfecting a section before moving on. TV shows always get me too (I have to watch my Glee... and my Modern Family... and my 30 Rock...).

Donea Lee said...

I take FOREVER! I think if I actually admitted to how long it's taken me to write some of my novels, well....(sorry, just can't do it). But, my process is similar to yours in that I just start writing, I go with an idea and then after a few ten-thousand words or so, I organize it, map it out, check for continuity, etc. I, too, would love to say I cranked one out in 3 months, but...just not my style. But, maybe 2011 will be different ~ :)

Colene Murphy said...

Oh Abby. Lol. You were a ball of energy on this post today! I loved it. Cracked me up. But your process is great, and works wonderfully for you so hurray!! You DO have your own!

M Pax said...

I keep an idea journal ... or three. Where I write down stuff as it occurs to me. A great resource when I get stuck in something.

My first two novels never saw the light of day. I'm on #4 while sending out queries for #3. But I'm still learning. I hope it picks up speed, too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm counting the label!
I detail out the characters, but I also have to do an outline before I begin writing. Otherwise, I'm all over the map!

Kari Marie said...

Forgive me for my typos. I'm feeling a bit tipsy...

I write slowly too. I have been getting about 4500 words per week. It doesn't matter though. I just keep plodding along. Thanks for sharing your process.

L.A. Colvin said...

I'm new and not as fast as I'd like to be. But I think that will improve for you as you write more and get a good flow working for you. Just keep going. Great post by the way.

Jennie Bailey said...

I love you for counting how many times you said "writing process" in this post!! It's hard to find something tried and true. I sit and make myself write. It's the only thing that works.

Francine Howarth said...

Hi,

There's definitely a plotter in there and dying to take control of your writing process. ;)

best
F

Elaine AM Smith said...

How many times have I come up with a strong idea in a situation where making notes would have been inappropriate! I'm always sure I will remember the detail and, frustratingly, it is like remembering the 2-D version. You have a strong start to a process, the more you write the clearer your process will become.

SariBelle said...

Hmm I know what you mean about having to come up with a rough outline when you're about 3/4 way through. I'm in this situation now with my current WIP, where I feel like I can't keep going unless I've got some kind of plan. My inner Plotter coming through.

Kelly Dexter said...

I'm also a pantser at heart, so the tiny semblance of process I do have is fairly similar to yours. It worked for me with the first book, but the second could take me in a completely different direction.

Interesting that you know exactly where and how the Walmart flasks are displayed . . . :-)

Lynda Young said...

I have found that the more I write, the faster I write, which I have to say is a huge relief ;)

Bookewyrme said...

I can be pretty slow too. I'd be a lot faster if I wrote every day, but since I don't it takes me longer. Sometimes I rebel and try to write every day or write more to get there faster, and sometimes I just let it flow at it's own pace. Depends on my mood. ^_^

~Lia

Abby Minard said...

Thanks for all the comments and encouragement guys! I love hearing about all your processes.

ha, Kelly mentioned its funny how I know where the flasks are. I don't drink. Like at all. But I think the water is in the same aisle or something.

Meredith said...

Such an interesting take to do an outline 3/4 of the way in--that would totally help me! Thanks for sharing your process! And for inventing a fun new drinking game :)

Madeline said...

I think that each book deserves it's own process, most definitely, but you'll always find comfort in an earlier process. I write willy-nilly with my first draft. The second one I try to be a bit more cautious. This was awesome. :D So awesome, I have an award for you.
http://capriciousexistence.blogspot.com/2011/01/awards.html
Heh heh, keep up the good work. :)

Amie Kaufman said...

I wish I was more of a pantser--I'm outlining now, and I'm tiiiiiiiiiired of it! We do have one thing in common, though--whether I've plotted a lot or a little before starting, there's always an outlining session at the 3/4 way mark.

Marieke said...

I'm a week late, but catching up on this blogfest now after I finally put my own entry up =)

Interesting point for an outline! But I do recognize it! And yeah, it's totally fine to take as long as you need. There's no rush in writing :)

Cristina said...

Hi, I found you through another blog and loved this post... I too wish I could write faster, but it just can't be done with the two little monster that live in my house. I actually just wrote a post on my process and it's similar to yours, except for the part where you already finished a novel.. me? not so much :)