Friday, September 25, 2009

My process

Over the course of the last year as I’ve made it a goal (complete with cajoling by the fantastic Cherry Adair) to finish a novel I’ve had to come up with a process so that writing is a part of my daily routine. In the past I’ve just sat whenever I wanted and wrote and that was it. Trouble was, it wasn’t very productive. So I had to come up with something that was or I’d ever get the ‘damn book’ finished.

I work a full time day job that can be draining. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is come home and sit in front of the computer again. So I had to come up with a plan. This plan became even more important when I was laid off earlier in the year and out of work for five months before becoming employed again. You’d think that having all that time would be conducive to lots of page making, but you’d be wrong :)

I’ve taken workshops on plotting and on pantsing and part of my problem is that I’m neither one. I can’t do some giant fifty page outline and five page each character sketches but I can’t just not have any idea of what’s going to happen next. So I’ve come up with a chapter outline. I figure out how long my work is going to be and then outline at least 4-5 points I want to make per chapter. This worked so well with my historical western that I just finished that I plan on doing it again. It kept me on task and helped me find plot holes early.

I also do not allow myself to edit ANYTHING until I’m done. There is not an author on this planet who has ever had their first draft published. EVER. If there’s something that I know I need to double check on or a different word or phrasing I want to use I’ll use the track changes feature of word to indicate that. Since I write historicals, research is important. I do some up front so that I know if my plot is going to work. Any specifics get researched when I’m editing. This probably sounds backward but it works. For me anyway.

I also don’t come home and then immediately dive in to writing. I go on a walk, get dinner ready and take care of what I need to take care of. Then I get into comfortable clothes and I start writing. I write for two hours every night. Some times more but I make myself do at least two hours.

Now I’m not going to say that this happens every night because it doesn’t. But I’ve gone from writing only every so often to writing about 4-5 nights a week which has helped me be more productive.

What about you? Do you have a writing routine that you use? Do you have to have the whole story plotted or do you just sit and go?


Andrea said...

Like I mentioned in my post, I need to come up with a good compromise between pantsing and full-on plotting. I like the idea of making chapter notes; that would help me stay focused on the story and not veer off into randomland.

Two hours of writing is awesome. Good for you! I totally understand not being able to write when you had all the time in the world too. Neither did I when I was out of work. I could barely function, let alone be creative. I'm so glad you found your writing groove; now I just have to do the same.

Katie said...

I like your idea of making chapter outlines! I have a similar thing: making a list of thing I want to see written in to my novel. I think I'm going to make it my goal to begin plotting each chapter with something similar. :)