Hi there! Long time no see. I've been a busy bee as usual, editing and writing, but sometimes I want to write things that aren't fictional, and I guess that's what a blog is for. I also just finish-finished a new book that I may or may not be querying (gasp!) when it's done being edited. So I guess this is a good time to write about what people have been asking for a while: My Writing Process. So here it is, in all its glory.
1. Idea Love
This is the first idea that comes to mind. It could be something abstract like an image or word, but for me, it’s often the first or last sentence of the book. Much like a reader falling in love with a book, this is what draws me in and makes me want to learn more. Usually, the initial idea happens when I’m finishing a completely different book and won’t have time to go back to it for a while—sometimes YEARS.
2 The Simmering—or as I call it, The Cake Batter Stage
|Yes, that is Tubby Custard, bitches.|
This is the time that through no fault of my own always ends up happening. I have this idea I’m super excited about, yet either because I’m already busy writing/editing a book or don’t think I’m ready to write down this new idea, I have to let it sit there and cook. Amanda Palmer calls it the embryonic stage. I call it the cake batter stage. No matter how you refer to it, this is the time where your idea has time to mature and gain strength before all the grueling processes that lay ahead.
3. ALL THE IDEA VOMIT
One idea leads to TONS of others for me. They all relate to the same story, but unlike the original idea, these are more solid—plot points, character traits, etc. I actually jot down some o this stuff and save it for later. Oftentimes, I wake up late at night/early in the morning/don’t sleep at all and when I look back at these notes, I barely understand what I was trying to say.
4. Doing The Thing (Writing. A lot)
This is the stage where I write pretty much every spare moment I have. All of this cake batter is ready to go in the oven and I spend the better part of a month or two dribbling it all into paper baking cups. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. The important thing here is to be as messy as possible and allowing myself to write the worst thing possible. NO DELTEING ALLOWED. That comes later.
5. Take A Break
|I've watched Gilmore Girls from beginning to end three times.|
This is the first break I take during my process. I find that when I stare at things too long, I end up questioning and hating everything. It’s better to gain some distance, watch some Netflix, and read
some books for a few weeks or so before even thinking about the piece again.
6. Editing Round One
So I’ve watched all of Goosebumps and Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I’ve read lots of Neil Gaiman and have gotten over how I will never be as awesome as him, and now I’m ready to look at the book again. I go through, taking notes and trying to make it the best as I can. I may not know some things like names of characters or places, so I either put in a blank (___) or write out what I want (PUT NAME OF PLACE HERE, YOU FOOL). It’s still sloppy at this point, but the cake is starting to taste good (have you had enough of this analogy yet?).
I’m so lucky to have the best group of workshopping partners in the world. I send them chunks of my book in sections, they suggest how I should make it better, and I have a bunch of ner perspective on all the stuff I wrote!
8. Editing Round Two
This is the second round. Ding Ding Ding! During this part, I take all the notes and suggestions from my workshop buddies and go through and edit the manuscript again. Pretty self explanatory.
9. Hate The Book
There is no exact time where I reach this stage, but it always comes somewhere between the first and last edit. I start to hate every line, all the characters, and I start asking myself who I think I am, writing a book like some type of writer or some shit. This is where I start procrastinating and everything in my house is miraculously clean and organized. I may also pick up new hobbies like baking or scrapbooking to avoid the manuscript. I wish I was kidding.
10. Print The Book
I love Word’s comments and track changes tool, but for me, there is nothing like editing my own work on paper. I’m better able to see what I’m doing, can write myself detailed notes in the margins, and I can flip back and forth more easily. I don’t do any of this however until I first…
11. Take Another Break
That’s right. It might seem a little excessive, but I need that second break between second and third edits. I need to get out of my own head and DO things for at least a month before looking at it again.
12. Send To People
This is where during my time of binge-watching The X-files and reading everything I put off while I was writing, my first writer-friend takes a look at my work. I’ll also send it to my editor during this time so when I get the notes and suggestions back from both of them, I can flip through my own notes and compare them. Essentially, when I go in for the next round of edits, I have at least three peoples’ opinions to work with.
This is where I’m slowly coming out of my hating the manuscript stage and heading back into love, but I don’t dive head first. There are strangers reading it and it is no longer just mine. It can be a little nerve wracking and this is probably the stage (except #16) that makes me the most nervous. It’s important to take a step back and realize that I’m doing it. This is happening and it’s going to be okay.
14. Fall In Love Again
I get my notes back and I have finished my first critical read through of the book. I see what works and what doesn’t, and finally, the pieces are all starting to fit together and look like an actual novel with a point. I fall back in love with the characters and their story. I’m renewed and ready for phase 15.
15. Editing Round Three
That’s right. It’s round three. I get rid of anything that looks like poop and make sure things make sense. Usually, the only thing left after this are very small and are often caught by…
16. Beta Readers
This is different than my workshop buddies, writer friends, and editor reading the book because these are readers, first and foremost. This is the audience that represents who will be buying my book and most of the time, their opinion means the most because it’s kind of like a test run with a crash dummy in the seat (sorry for yet another awful analogy. It’s late). If the airbag needs to deploy, it’s not on someone who paid five dollars for the book and will get angry and write a bad review when they find the slightest mistake. Beta readers are super important because they’re honest about the overall story and plot, and they’re the last gatekeeper you need to pass before you’re seeing that light at the end of the tunnel.
This is the final read through. This is the final countdown. I’m getting ready for promotion, the cover, and release and now I have the opinions of test readers. Usually this last one goes by fast because there are a few easy things to fix and then I’m done. I can see it being a book and other people eventually reading it. I also send out review copies or ARCs to reviewers and readers once this is done, which is super exciting and nerve wracking.
I let all the review copies be read, format the book, and upload it for preorder. This is the time where I’m at the top of the roller coaster and waiting for it to drop. It’s hard to not be stressed out, but it’s also hard to not be happy.
The book comes out and hopefully readers like it as much as I do in the end. Then I’m on to the next book, starting the process all over again.
Thanks for reading. If there are any topics you'd like me to write about in the future, leave a comment below or join the facebook group and post something!