A reader/reviewer/friend sent me a message asking me if I’d consider doing a post on my process for a book from beginning to end. I was thrilled to be asked, honored even… I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks and it’s been a hard to figure out, honestly.
(Beware, this is going to be a long post, so please sit back, grab a glass of something good, and settle in to read…)
I don’t write my books in quite the same way each time. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it’s evident that I don’t go about the different books the same.
When a story flows for me, I can sit down and write for hours on end. When it’s not flowing, it’s like pulling teeth. I love what I do, but the reality is that sometimes it’s the biggest bitch.
One thing I’ve always done and needed to do, is work on multiple projects at one time. When one isn’t working in one moment, another one is. I can sometimes and do sometimes, work on two or three projects in the same day. I take breaks in between, but it actually is easier to keep them all going than it is just working on one at a time. And part of this thinking is because I have ideas, lots and lots of ideas. Most writers do. We talk about plot bunnies and they often hop up on the desk as we’re in the middle of trying to be dedicated to one project, dedicated to getting it done.
Some are able to put the new ideas aside in their head, others need to take a few notes to get it out and keep their mind from being cluttered, and still there are others who have to plot and start working on it before they can go back to what they were originally working on. This is me.
Of late though, my processes are slightly changing. I’ve started working on synopses long before I start writing now. I write with a timer, always. I have little rituals… Coffee. (Y’all are shocked, I know) Sometimes music, sometimes Law and Order playing in the background (white noise which I love). Baking or cooking. If I’m lucky, the phones won’t ring either. I have to write before I do most anything else. If I have errands to run or appointments, writing won’t get done at all. I cannot, no matter how many times I try, write in the afternoons or at night, if I haven’t started my day off writing. It’s the weirdest thing, but it is what works.
Book ideas come easy to me. Book writing, does not. Even when the words are flowing, it doesn’t mean it’s any kind of easy. I get stuck and I have to back off, work on something else. But I’m always thinking of the books I’m writing. I change them as I’m writing them, too, or if it’s something small that I don’t think will bug me, I’ll make a note and go back to it later.
I’m also learning to write rough drafts and fill in on the read through. This has helped me a lot. I don’t outline, but as I said, I do write synopses first most of the time now and if it’s a book I’ll be writing at a later time, the synopsis will likely be changed a bit here and there to accommodate how the thoughts have changed with time.
My process is changing, evolving and that’s one thing with writing and with almost anything…you have to be open to changing the way you do something. I don’t like change. It scares me. But, in my writing, it’s been a slow enough process that I don’t even realize it until I start thinking about it. And another thing… I said I write with a timer all the time. I do. 20 minutes. I’ve talked about this before. For some 30 minutes works, and for some an hour at a time works. For me, 20 minutes. Usually two 20 minute sessions in an hour yields close to 1100-1300 words for me. It could produce more, but when I write, the majority of words don’t get tossed out. I don’t cut large sections. I try to make the words I write the first time be the best words they can be. However, I do often ADD a lot during revisions and edits.
I used to want to write 10000 words a day like other authors I know, but it’s not something I can do. Most I can write in a day is 7000-8000 words a day and that’s if there’s nothing else going on at all. So most days, it’s 2500-4000 words a day. I’m very happy with that. It gets the job done and in the end, that’s what needs to happen.
There is no right way or wrong way to do this job. We each have our own craziness we go through to write our books. We each have ideas and we try to work through them as best we can. Some authors are uber organized, some are always in the midst of chaos. I am a little of both. I write from beginning to end. I revise from beginning to end and proof from end to beginning. I catch a lot this way.
The things I need when going through the book writing process:
my paper calendar
white noise (shows/movies I know by heart or music)
my white board with it’s 4 columns… Bright, Shiny New Ideas, Works in Progress, Completed Works, Self-Publish
specific pencils (I’m strange… mechanical pencils, color coordinated with something in the story)
a timer for accountability
a lot of books to read (fiction, not craft books)
time to bake or cook because those thing fuel my creativity (for you, it might and likely will be something different)
my gray, threadbare #18 Kyle Busch hoodie
When a book is done, I take a break for a day or so before starting something new but I keep working on other projects I had been working on. Everyone’s process is different and I think that’s what makes writing so fun and so interesting. We all write these books that people love and we all go about it so differently. We need different things when we write. We seek out different atmospheres when we write.
I also write from time to time with several other authors…writing sprints in the mornings online. It helps me get into the groove of writing and gets me into the chair at a specific time most days.
I’m always happy to answer questions, to help out when other authors or readers have questions. I don’t always write on what my readers want me to write on when they want me to write on it. I have to wait until the characters start talking to me. I can’t force them. I’ve tried. And even then, it’s not always the story the readers were looking for. But I can only write the way the characters want their story told. They have as much control over my stories as I do, often times, more control than I do.
I appreciate Crystal wanting to know and allowing me to think about this.
Now, about the cover I promised you… Melting Jane. You knew the book previously as Sugar Rush. It is being re-released by me, hopefully in May. I’ve been revising it and adding new scenes, and overall am loving these characters all over again. I hope you will too…
Graham Hall is a twenty-six year old Texan with the job of his dreams: being a freelance travel writer for a national publication. He’s just finished his latest article about small winter resort destinations in Colorado and has earned some personal down time. With the six month lease not yet up on the small cabin he rented, Graham decides to stick around the area for a while and in the process, finds himself agreeing to a blind date with a feisty, down on her luck in the love department, candy maker named Jane.
After all, what could it hurt?
Jane, completely oblivious to the set up, arrives at Graham’s isolated little valley cabin to deliver a box of her handmade Chocolate Kick truffles. From the moment Graham opens the door, Jane is tongue tied and ticked off. Edward, her business partner and most certainly former best friend, set her up. When she regains her ability to put two coherent words together, plus size, mid-thirties Jane apologizes for intruding and assures Graham that she will take care of the mistake.
What ensues is a series of encounters and confrontations between Jane and Edward, Jane and Graham, and Edward and Graham. At the heart of it all, is Jane’s happiness. Edward wants this for her more than anything. Graham finds himself caught up in her tart tongue and curvy body and isn’t about to call his all too real pursuit a failure, no matter how many times she says no.
With her inability to continue denying herself the man she affectionately refers to as Cowboy Surfer in her head, she gives in and is rewarded with scorching hot sex and a lot of follow-up phone calls after she learns the truth of Graham’s attraction. His persistence leads Jane to believe that life doesn’t have to revolve around chocolate truffles, but rather should revolve around a delicious, well traveled and well built younger man.
Have a good evening, y’all!
I loved the original book and can’t wait to re-read it with new scenes!
I’m really enjoying re-visiting these characters again and getting additional stories from them…
Can’t wait for the revised book!
And that you for sharing your process with us – it is very interesting to see how the whole process works for you. And I too love baking in the same way (though I am so NOT a writer!) 🙂
Honey, I thought I was the only one who needed my trusty hoodie to get in the writing mood. I have 4 but my favorite is for my son’s hockey team….got that as a xmas present.
You forgot to include IMing with friends when you get stuck! LOL.
Glad I could see what your writing day is like. Mine includes running after the two year old and getting the odd word in here and there. Gotta love kids….if you have them.
Love, Love, Love the new cover!