This blog was partially inspired by the blog of a friend. All writers seem to do things differently and it can take a while to find what’s best for each person sometimes so I thought I’d share how I write and see if it helps anyone else. And those who are curious about my working day can get an insight.
I’m not a plotter nor am I a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants without knowing what’s meant to happen next). I sort of sit somewhere in between. I get an idea, which is usually a scene or two between the main characters, and things tend to grow from there in my head. I often know where the book needs to end. I have some crucial plot moments and vague ideas of a few conversations that will take place but I rarely have the whole plot.
Once I’ve worked out who the characters are and their backstory I usually just start writing somewhere that’s part action and not too description based and just tell the story from there, until I reach the ending I had in my head, via all the crucial scenes I had before. What happens in between that is often as surprising to me as anyone else.
On average I write about 800-900 words per working day, although this is significantly more in November and less in the summer months. I find I work best in the winter and I love competing in NaNoWriMo. Most of my writing gets done in the afternoon or evening as I often use the morning to write blog posts, market, and read other blogs on various related topics to do with my profession.
I’ve mentioned several times before that my ideas get written into my tardis journal and when I’ve finished the first draft of a book I often spend a few days picking the next one to write. I don’t start editing anything right after finishing first draft as it’s still too fresh in my head and I do only a minor amount of re-writing as I try not to use the critical side of my brain at all but stay in the creative side (for more info on that read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog on the myth of re-writing).
When I’ve finished the second draft (which I don’t start for at least a month or two) the rest of my team get to look at it which is made up of a mix of different style editors and proofreaders. My team have been very carefully put together of a number of years and now consists of people I trust the most with my writing. They are people who get me and my style but still offer critisism and are good at picking up on certain things I struggle with.
When a book is close to being finished I commission the cover (if I’ve not already done so) and format the book myself for print and ebook. This is all stuff I try to fit into my mornings when I’m not writing but it doesn’t always work like that.
For a while I wrote everything by hand and also spent most mornings typing up but I switched to typing last NaNoWriMo and found I’m a faster writer now. I think it was important I wrote by hand those first few years. It helped me see my own mistakes quicker as I typed them and was good for learning discipline but now I’m a better writer it’s no longer necessary. I do sometimes miss my fountain pen though and will have the odd day or two where I decide to ditch the computer and write some stuff by hand and it often helps me get through a stuck point.
I also try to concentrate on only one book at a time. I’ve tried several projects at once but the temptation to only write the new exciting ones is too much for me and the older ideas get forgotten and then they are harder to write when I do have to finish them but I know others who have several stories on the go at once and write whatever they feel like writing.
All in all this process gets me writing about 220-240k words per year (although my average seems to be going up slowly year on year) and that results in about two novels per year plus the odd short story or two. either way you look at it I’m rather busy.