I’ve been asked repeatedly how I can write a novel, or a series, or just write a book in general. So let’s talk process!
When you ask multiple writers what their process is, I’m sure no two authors will give the exact same answer. A writer’s process is as unique as they are. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for everyone else.
So if you’re looking for help in discovering your process, my best advice for you is: do what works for you.
Many (famous) authors have said that they write every single day, without fail, and usually in the morning. I tried to do that a few years ago and I failed miserably. It’s not that I don’t want to write every day… I would love to do that. But real life creeps in like an insidious disease, and it’s not always feasible to write every single day.
When Work and Writing Clash
In my personal situation, I have been building a business for the last 5 years. I’m self-employed, which comes with a lot of rewards but also a lot of risk. I consider myself extremely lucky in that my business has been successful since day 1 – I’ve never once run in the red.
However, building a business and being one’s own boss doesn’t tend to lend itself to a lot of free time, especially in the beginning. As much as I hated to do it, I had to place my writing on hold for the first year or two. I just didn’t have the time or energy to write after I’d been working 50+ hours a week, and by the time I did sit down to relax, my brain was on burn out.
Since then, I’ve gotten so much better at time management and configuring my business in such a way that I do have space in my life for fun and creative pursuits. I’ve also started giving myself permission to take time for me and make space in my life again for books and writing and reading, all of which I consider essential to my happiness and overall well-being.
Processing the Process
So you’re probably wondering now what my process is. Let’s go through it.
I don’t write every day. I wish I could, and that is actually my ultimate goal. But instead of trying to pile too many things into too few hours, instead of pressuring myself with the “I should do this…” mantra, I schedule my writing time. I’m a great scheduler, and Google Calendar is my method of choice. So I take Sundays as my writing day.
Yep, all day Sunday.
I now reserve my Sundays for anything to do with writing, whether that’s working on a novel, writing a blog, drafting my next newsletter or scheduling posts for the Facebook page, or editing a manuscript. Anything at all to do with writing happens on Sunday, and I’m getting everyone used to the idea (slowly but surely) that Sunday is my day to write and please don’t try to contact me then.
Now that I have my writing time, how do I write?
I generally start with an outline. I’m definitely an outliner; I have to have some idea of where I’m going in order to move past the initial idea. My outlines rarely make it to the final stage without significant changes, so I don’t stick with the idea that the outline is a hard-and-fast rule the story has to live by. It’s fluid. It changes. That works for me.
Once I have something in outline form, I start writing. I’ve generally been a scenes type of writer, meaning that I usually break up the story or chapters into scenes and I write the scenes. This gives me the freedom to jump around, so if I’m stuck in one part of the story, I can skip to the next scene and write that while the rest percolates in the background.
However, I’ve also found that style can be problematic at times. Things get forgotten, or something falls through the cracks. So lately I’ve been trying to write in a more linear fashion. The jury’s still out on whether I like that or not, but it’s going fairly well.
Once I finish a full first draft, I’ll print it off and let it sit for 2-3 weeks, at least. This sort of resets my brain on that story and I can jump into editing it with fresher eyes.
After the reset period, I start editing, and I’ll go through multiple rounds of editing. My first book easily went through 10 major edits before I was satisfied. The second one didn’t undergo quite as many; I think it was only 3 or 4 distinct phases before I finalized it.
Once it’s been edited, then I may ask for a handful of beta readers to read it and give me feedback.
And that’s it! Then it’s on to the next novel, and the next. Write, edit, repeat.
What’s your process? Are you an outliner or do you wing it? Do you write daily? Comment and let me know!