My 20-Step Foolproof Writing “Process:” You Can Do It Too!
So apparently people are intrigued by my writing process. Let’s put that in quotation marks, shall we? “Process.” There, that’s better.
I’ve received numerous remarks over the past two years that I’m crazy efficient or write faster than people can think. First of all, thank you! Second, so NOT true. In an effort to decode the mystery, I’ve decided to write a completely–and perhaps embarrassingly–honest post about my “process.”
I expect this post to accomplish many things, including:
1. Giving me actual content on my blog. JOY!
2. Trying to make sense of my unusual habits
3. Inspiring others to go easy on themselves
4. Showing that writing can’t really be classified as a “process,” after all
Ready? Here goes!
Step 1: Get a really amazing, super cool, WORLD-CHANGING idea for a new story (usually while driving).
Step 2: Slam on the brakes, because my awesome writer daydreaming makes me a horrible, dangerous driver.
Step 3: Rush home and send several emails, Facebook messages, Skype messages, and tweets to my publisher within the span of a few minutes.
Step 4: Have a 2 to 3-hour Skype “meeting” with my publisher, laying out the glorious new idea and all the reasons why it will be my break-out book!
Step 5: Listen to the publisher say, “That’s all nice and well, but, man alive, you have other things you’ve already committed to. You’re not allowed to start ANY new projects until you finish the Farsighted Series. Raaaa!” (To be fair, Lane Diamond is incredibly patient with me. He listens to everything I have to say before responding with “STFU.”)
Step 6: Rebel by refusing to write anything for several weeks. “If I can’t write the story I want to write, then I won’t write at all. Hmmpf!”
Step 7: Brainstorm plot, characters, and symbolic stuff for my dream story. But since I’m not *supposed* to be writing it, I don’t technically write anything down.
Step 8: Wait for my editor or publisher to ask when I’ll have such-and-such manuscript to them. Lie about my progress. “Oh, I’ll have it ready in three weeks as planned. No problem.”
Step 9: Get my hiney in gear, put all other things aside, and write manically to finish the original project.
Step 10: Miraculously turn that manuscript in on time–or close to on time.
Step 11: “Oh zods! I can finally write that cool new story idea that’s been marinating in my brain for the last several months. I’m so excited! I’m so relieved I’m so… tired. Nah, man, I need some time off before delving into the next great adventure.”
Step 12: Take a break for at least one week. Possibly come up with another shiny new idea that supplants the original idea, or just plain lose motivation.
Step 13: A fan, usually Heather Cox or Summer Binde, says something crazy supportive about how excited they are for my next book. This tends to give me a change of heart.
Step 14: Get super excited and super caffeinated (well, as long as I’m not pregnant–otherwise, get super hydrated), and then put my mental outline down onto paper. This usually results in a 10-page-ish outline and a detailed cast list.
Step 15: Stop writing and daydream about my project more to make sure I didn’t miss anything. This lasts anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks.
Step 16: Get back to writing and crank out any where from two to four chapters super fast.
Step 17: Start telling everyone about my new project and pretend like I’m much further into the writing process than I already am. This includes sharing micro-excerpts, getting a cover design, and devoting a section of my website to this project.
Step 18: See something shiny and get distracted for as much as six months at a time. (This happened with both of my first two novels, Farsighted and Torn Together, but hasn’t happened since–at least not to the same degree).
Step 19: Realize a deadline is looming, get terrified, lie to editor and publisher about progress on said project, move everything else in my life aside, drink an unholy amount of caffeine and go into manic writing mode.
Step 20: Finish the book in one week if it is a novella or one month if it is a novel. Hand it over to the editor. Wait for the publication date. Get told by fans that this is my best book ever!
So there you have it, my twenty-step foolproof writing process, chock full of procrastination and pertinacity, yet somehow it’s strangely productive. Does anyone else share my convoluted “process,” or am I so far advanced in my procrastinator disease that I think working like this is not just okay but completely and perfectly normal?
I’d love to hear how you do it, especially if you think you do it better than me. 😉