I’ve written this post once before, but my old version was less about my full writing process and more about how I organized my writing after starting a bullet journal, so I’m going to make an actual “My Writing Process” post now.
Step one: Have a BRILLIANT idea
I couldn’t find the “Lightbulb” gif, so this is gonna work. At some point (likely in the middle of the night) I’ll be hit with a FABULOUS idea that consumes my brain for the next… however long. Characters, plots, and worlds do acrobatics in my head and turn themselves into something workable, providing a launching pad for more focused brainstorming. (Wait… do I do that?)
Step two: Let the idea take over
For a limited amount of time, sometimes a day or sometimes as long as a week, I jump full-force into the idea. I put together a Pinterest board, write down everything I know about the idea so I have it for later, sometimes brainstorm places that aren’t quite working yet, etc. I mostly let the idea grow naturally and don’t stop it for a day or a week.
Step three: Set the idea aside
Because, chances are, I’m working on another project at the moment and don’t dare start another one until the first is finished. The new shiny gets set on the back burner to be added to very infrequently as ideas come up.
Step four: Forget about brilliant idea
As I take years finishing my main project (and the main project after that. and the main project after that.), I completely forget about the new shiny. Completely.
Step five: Find brilliant idea years later
When I finally have time again and I want a story to write (who am I kidding. those random story ideas will never get written. I have too many series for that.), I pull out the Pinterest board and basic ideas I put together when the idea first came to me and get hit with the stroke of GENIUS that must have brought this idea about. (Or the sheer idiocy. It depends.)
Step six: Set up a basic outline
I don’t like this part, but I have to have some sort of loose outline or I’ll aimlessly wander and never get the story finished. *cough*TheShadowRaven*cough* Soooo, I plan. At least a little bit. :P
Step seven: WRITE!
I start cranking out the first draft, which is… sometimes faster than other times. I can look like Flint here, or I can look more like a snail trying to type. Ideally I look like Flint, so we’re gonna go with that. I may start my novel in November and get as much done as possible during NaNoWriMo or, more often, I start a novel in the middle of the year, make some progress on it, stall, and then get another boost for NaNoWriMo. Whatever the case, I write about the first half.
Step eight: Crash into a brick wall
Eventually, I will stall out. I will fall down some major plot hole or have no idea how to get the characters from point A to point B, and I will stall. For too long. And kinda-sorta half-heartedly brainstorm ways out of the dry spot. And then I’ll talk to my dad about it and he’ll solve the problem in fifteen minutes.
Step nine: Finish the novel and have a party
Actually, I generally don’t officially celebrate finishing novels (I should), but there’s often a lot of internal celebration all the same. That book is FINISHED. For now.
Step ten: Take a break
All right, who am I kidding? I’m always working on some project alongside my first draft. I’ll still be working on whatever that is. (Later draft of an earlier novel, editing for someone else, blogging at the very least…) But I take a break from this project and let it sit so I can come back to it later with fresh eyes and…
Step eleven: Edit
This is where I come back to my book, realize it’s a total disaster, and start totally reconstructing it. It can take me at least three months to deal with the second draft, depending on the extent of reconstruction necessary and what percentage of the book’s development actually went well in the drafting stage. (The Shadow Raven is going to be a nightmare to edit.) But once I get into it, assuming I like the story, it’s actually pretty fun for me. I enjoy turning the mess I made in the first draft into something salvageable, and then good, even. It’s a really nice feeling to make something better.
Step twelve: Repeat step 11 anywhere from once to five times
House of Mages had three drafts. The Heart of the Baenor is going to have five before I even send it to a professional editor who’s not my dad. *in TV ad voice* Repeat as necessary for your book to reach its highest potential.
Step thirteen: ACTUALLY have a party
I’ve been working on this thing for at least a year, it’s finally as polished as it’s going to get, you bet I’m actually celebrating this time. Ice cream, cake, new books that I really don’t have space for on my TBR…
Step fourteen: Plan out all the pre-publishing stuff
This actually happened during some round of edits, because this stuff takes a lot of planning. Brainstorming social media promotion, blog promotion, ways to make promotion appealing instead of salesy (possibly the hardest part. easier, though, when you’re planning ahead.), brainstorming blogs to contact for a blog tour, etc. There’s a lot of stuff to get done. All of which probably gets scheduled/done before I finish the final draft (at least ideally), but I have yet to get here so we’ll see.
Step fifteen: Publish the book and have another party
You have come to the end of your work with this novel. Go celebrate! All of your hard work has finally paid off and now you just have to get your book into the hands of readers by force of will and… do it all again with another novel.