There is nothing I love more than reading about how my favorite authors write their books. As a child, I bought all the biographies of my favorite authors (obviously I bought every J.K. Rowling biography known to man) and printed out the FAQ sections of every fantasy author’s website (this was at a time when people did things like print web pages out…I am still not quite sure why). Of course, I would watch all the author interviews on the news (pretty much the only time I watched the news as a child).
There is something fascinating about someone else’s creative process. I am not sure if I am so enthralled because I think they have the magic answer (hint: there is no one right way to do things or silver bullet) or because it is just fun to see how creativity manifests itself in so many different ways. Regardless, I am always more excited about a new author memoir than I am about Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which is pretty exciting…I mean, who isn’t thrilled about Titus lemonading?).
While I know I am not your favorite author, I thought it would be fun to share my own writing process with you.
I always get my best ideas on vacation. Unfortunately, this is an expensive way to function, but it is what it is. I got my current idea for my book in the arts district of Asheville. My idea for another book in the series came to me in a restaurant in New Orleans. I really wish I could come up with my best ideas in my living room, but, alas, my muse doesn’t work that way.
After I get my idea, I type into the notes section of my iPhone. Then I let it marinate for a few weeks. More ideas will come to me about the characters (usually when I am on a walk with my Corgi) or the plot during that time. After a few weeks, I turn on the David Bowie Pandora station and outline the novel (using the principles outlined in Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering). I also conduct character interviews and fill out my templates for characters (you can grab your copy of my template here). Then I feel ready to write.
The Writing Process
I pick a soundtrack for my writing so I am instantly triggered to write when I hear the soundtrack. For my latest novel, it is No Strings Attached by N*SYNC (nope, I am not ashamed). I try to write first thing in the morning (so other people’s words don’t “pollute” my writing). I write until I have added 1,000 words to my document (I often write more, but it is good to have writing goals). I drink water as I am writing because coffee makes me too wired (there is also less of an opportunity to ruin my clothes if I spill). That’s it. There is really nothing fancier than that.
The Editing Process
I always give myself a break for at least a month after I finish my book. I also always throw a pretty rad party. For example, my BFF threw me a Greek-themed party after I finished a YA book based on the Persephone myth. I wore a crown and everything. Yes, it was one of the best nights of my life. I think it is really important to take time to enjoy your accomplishment. A first draft is worth celebrating! Most people never even finish a book, so writing “the end” is a big deal.
After I take a break, I then look back at the book. I first read the book through without doing anything. Sometimes I am horrified by sections that I thought were really good, and sometimes I am pleased with sections that I thought were totally unintelligible. Moral of the story: you never know what works and what doesn’t while you are writing.
Then I get to work. I do a pass (also known as a reading) for each element of a book: one for plot, one for characters, one for general consistency, etc. Then I read it a few times for grammar and typos. After that point, I send it off to my editor for review. Once I get her comments back, I implement them.
There you have it! That’s my writing process. What is your writing process? Tell me in the comments below.