Posted in blogging, writing

Personal Writing Process

I’m a firm believer that the writing process is different for every writer. While some of us dive headlong into the story with minimal planning, others take days, weeks and even months to plot, research and develop the story and characters before we ever put a word on the page. And many, many of us fall somewhere in the weird spectrum between plotting and discovering.

Thinking on that made me curious: what does the process look like for each writer? What are some of the ways we all differ from one another and what are the techniques that work best for each of us?

To answer that, I wanted to look at my personal process, from rough draft all the way up to a finished piece.

Normally any story for me ‘starts’ when I get an idea. If I’m in the middle of writing another piece, I tend to jot down a couple of notes on it—maybe a line or a word including with any known Characters, Antagonists, Reasonings, Obstacles, Themes or Titles and possibly the Setting. I’ve been using it for years and it works for me to hold onto a possible idea until I can come back to it.

Starting on the story itself is pretty easy. Recently I’ve moved away from rough drafts and into zero drafts—or, rather, what I typically end up titling as a Story Run. Rather than writing full chapters, I limit myself to ten or fifteen minutes to write a scene. Often because I’m racing to get the words down before the timer rings, I don’t have the option to stop and think, which prevents me from getting stuck. And if I do get stuck on a particular scene, I can simply move ahead to the next scene I know about and come back to it on editing later.

Once I have a complete run I typically move off to another story for a while, letting it sit and stew. Usually I like to give at least a month between each phase of any given story. That lets me work on something else and helps give me a better perspective on what the story needs when I come back to it.

From the zero draft I start expanding, working each chunk of writing up into individual chapters. Sometimes I’ve outlined the expansion, especially when I’m missing scenes. Other times I just add more to each scene, bridging it from one to the next to get a complete rough draft.

When I start on the editing itself, I always start with an outline, as well as a list of characters and their goals. This way I can tighten up any loose scenes or expand on flimsy ones as necessary. Usually my outlines include just a sentence or two about what happens in each chapter. Once I’ve finished the second draft it tends to look a little more like an actual story, but still needs a lot of polish. At this point I can send it to an alpha reader, or if I know there are still some problems I want to fix, I can head into the third draft.

I don’t always need another outline between the second and third draft, but occasionally do. At this point I’m usually working in a side-by-side view with both drafts. Because I tend to draft short, it also means I can keep an eye on my wordcount between the two versions and expand places that need a little more detail.

At this point it’s definitely time to get a beta reader if I don’t already have one lined up. Following beta feedback, I can address any remaining structural issues and start focusing on word choice and sentence flow. Once the next draft is finished, it’s time to rinse and repeat—get more feedback, make more updates. Draft six is usually the earliest I’ll start shopping a piece around, but dependent on what my early readers tell me, there may be more drafts. And if I get critiques while trying to find a home for a piece, I may also put it on hold to do another draft and address any valid feedback.

Writing is an ongoing and oftentimes lengthy process, but that’s only my take on it. I’m curious for my fellow writers: What does your process look like?

Posted in blogging

Checking In on Goals

With all the insanity that comes up when moving, I feel like my entire routine has been thrown out of the window. I haven’t managed to get much sorted out for June and realized when I made Monday’s post that I’d completely forgotten to prep any prompts for this month as well.

Since I need to get back into my routine I wanted to also take a moment to reassess my organization and where I am with my goals for the year. Admittedly, it’s not looking great, which is somewhat disappointing.

I started out the year with a self-set reading challenge of twenty-four new books. Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing so great on that score. Although I’ve read around ten or eleven books, all but three have been rereads. While I could still try and rush through and finish all twenty-four by the end of the year, I don’t think that would be wise, so I’m instead opting to cut back down to a mere twelve new books.

I also wanted to publish at least two stories published this year. Crimson and Gold came out in January, and I have another project I’m looking to possibly start discussing and showing in July. For my publication goals, I’m pretty pleased with where things stand.

Also! Crimson and Gold is available through Kindle Unlimited and will also be free on July 4th and 5th.

Although I’m not meeting all of the goals I set for myself, I’m still really pleased with where things stand for right now. There’s plenty of time to wrap things up. Although I’m missing the prompts for June it’s given me a good chance to reorganize and sort out some of my older posts and plan ahead.

How are you feeling about your goals?

Posted in blogging

Creating Blog Ideas

If you’ve thought about blogging at all, one of the big questions you might have is where you’ll get ideas for it all. You can only post so many times on the same things before you run out of ideas, right?

The good news is that while you might have a limited number of ideas, there are easy ways to find new ideas, and to help make your current ideas fit newer posts.

Expand. If you have a general idea—such as character development, or plotting for a particular genre—consider expanding on that general idea and getting into details and specific aspects of it. Do you want to discuss the exposition, or the climax? Perhaps you want to discuss some common plot twists to your genre. Think to how character development impacts their arc, or where to start developing characters. Look at your general ideas and make some notes. What are more topics you can expand on?

Series. It’s much easier to keep posting regularly if you have a series you can work from. This might be something like ten great recipes with potatoes, or historical accountings of metalwork from medieval times up to modern usage. If you work better with a plan, this is a great option! You can break each topic down onto a particular area you want to cover and plot them out over time. If you have a large topic with a lot to cover, you can also use this topic as a ‘filler’ when you don’t have time to write an in depth post on something else but want to maintain consistency.

Free Write. If you’re absolutely out of ideas, set a timer for ten minutes or so, pick a topic and splash some words down. Don’t worry if they come out with any sort of cohesiveness, you’re not doing anything more than spewing words out to get your thoughts turning. Once the timer is done, set it aside for a bit, maybe go edit another post or play with a page you need to update. Come back to it in an hour and see what sort of gems are hidden in your free write. Did you find a connection between two subjects you didn’t expect? Perhaps you can see a good base of a post.

Keep Tabs. If you notice a topic is trending—i.e. it’s cropping up on multiple other blogs or keeps recurring in the news—it’s not a bad idea to write up a post on your thoughts on it. Even if you never share that particular post, it can help you find new ideas by giving you a place to write down your questions. Those questions can be researched later, and a more informative post can be shared on the answer to that particular question.

Posted in blogging, General

May Recap

It’s been a whirlwind of a month. It’s hard to believe it’s already over. There’s been a huge amount of changes, starting with: I’m moving! It’s only to the other side of the city, but it’s still a massive amount of work to get everything done.

Writing-wise I’ve got a smaller project finished and ready to go through edits. I’m really excited to see how it goes and I’m hoping to start showing it in July. Keep an eye out for more information on it!

I’m behind on tracking my word count for the month. It’s all been written down in my agenda, which got packed. As soon as I can get those numbers put in I’ll be able to get an accurate count for the month. For right now, I feel like I didn’t get a huge amount written for May.

How was your May?

Posted in blogging, General

April Recap

I think it’s fair to say that April has been a month full of stress and worry. COVID-19 continues to be a very real threat.  I hope you all are safe at home. If you’re one of the essential workers helping to keep everything running: thank you. Thank you to the firefighters, the nurses, the doctors, the police and the sheriffs helping protect and combat this virus directly. Thank you to the delivery drivers, grocery clerks, farmworkers, and sanitation workers helping our families and first responders survive this crisis.

While COVID is affecting daily life heavily, there is still some progress to be noted about the month. Here at least, numbers have begun to plateau. Although it’s likely the situation won’t resolve for months at the least, the fact that there is some positive change is at least a sign that we can and will get a handle on the situation.

Moving onto other news, I’m really pleased with how my personal challenge went this month. I had quite a few rough days where I didn’t get much writing done. If you want a day-by-day breakdown, you can check out the 30 Day Shorts Part I,Part II, Part III and Part IV. Below you’ll find the last few days of the April Challenge.

I actually really enjoyed having a challenge and I wish I had another one to do. I might see about finding another, perhaps for July.

Day 26
Two more flash-pieces done, the first titled ‘Problem Solver’ and the second being ‘Bus Tickets’. I had more ideas but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to start on any of them.

Day 27
Worked on ideas from yesterday. Finished up the selection of pieces with ‘Recruiter’ and ‘Technomancer’. I’ve actually gotten caught up somehow and am sitting on twenty-seven pieces.

Day 28
One more short, this one titled ‘She Came Through’. Ended up using the Day 27 prompts on accident.

Day 29
Ended up scrambling to get laundry done and dried yesterday since my dryer has broken. Nothing short written.

Day 30
Last day of the challenge! I ended up not working on any short stories today, meaning I finished the month out with a total of twenty-eight shorts. All things considered, even though it technically means I didn’t succeed at the challenge, I’m happy with what I ended up with.

How was your April?