Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Writing Process – Part 1

Today’s post is part of Shallee’s What’s Your Writing Process Blogfest. We can write about any part of the writing process, but I’ve decided to write about the whole thing from start to finish. Because I wrote more than I originally intended, I have split this post up and will post the final part of my writing process on Friday.

How does it all start?
1. The desire. You’d think the idea for a story would come first, but for me what comes first is the desire to write. No matter how great my story idea’s might be, they won’t come to fruition if I don’t have the passion.
2. The idea. I’m not one to wait for inspiration. If I did, I’d be waiting a long time. Ideas can come from anywhere, but when I’m focussed on a search for an idea, they generally spring from a single word or a single image.
3. The development. I pursue the idea, create the characters, and see if the idea is worth the time to write a novel. I will write the beginnings of a loose outline.
4. The outline. By this stage I’ve decided to go ahead with the story. I then work on a more detailed outline. This includes post-it notes on the whiteboard, character sheets which include their development through the story, world building and how the setting might change the plot.

How do I write?
5. The First Draft. It’s time to begin writing. Using my outline as a base, I try to write the first draft as quickly as I can. I try not to worry too much about detailing descriptions, proper grammar or polish. I just need to get the story down. I will often throw in a few notes to remind myself to do extra research where needed.
6. The break. I need time to step away from the story. I will either begin another project or write a few short stories.
7. The read through. I will come back to my work in progress (WIP) by reading through the entire novel. I will make short notes only, but I will try not to edit yet.

On Friday I will describe what I do at the editing stage.

How do you get started with your writing?


  1. I am at The Break right now so I will be interested to see how you do your edits. I have a better plan in mind this time but could use more suggestions.

  2. I love the part where you say you don't wait for inspiration!

  3. Wow, great insight. I'm still bad at the outlining thing, but I'm gonna work on that part of it for my WIP.

    Breakfast Every Hour

  4. I like your idea of reading the whole thing but not actually editing...just making notes. Do you print your work out to do that, or just read off the screen?

    I have discovered the wonder that is printing, and yet I really hate to waste paper. So I usually don't print. ;)

  5. Great Post. I'm about to be on number 7. Can't wait for Friday's post.

  6. Love it. I'm in about 3 different stages, because I can't work on one novel at a time. Wonderful explination!

  7. Thanks for sharing, Lynda! These types of posts are among my favorite. I wish I could write my first draft as you described. I keep trying not to pay attention to certain things; it's just easier said than done.

  8. I used to be just a pantser when it came to writing, starting something without thinking about it. Now I find myself outlining, but giving myself permission to veer off course from that whenever possible.

  9. I've heard of the post-it mapping before. It sounds fluid enough for a pantster like me to try sometime.

  10. Oh I agree with the need to write coming first. before your post I hadn't thought about it, but looking back on my own writing I can see I do this as well.

  11. Thanks for sharing your writerly process!!! I'm yet to embrace outlining but I do see and appreciate just how important this is!! I'm such a panster and ought to change my ways really!! Take care

  12. Hi Lynda.... I like your process. I agree with you on all the points. It all does start with the desire. And if we all were to wait for inspiration, then we all would be waiting for a long time.

  13. This is great, thanks for sharing! I think I might give the post-its on a whiteboard a try-- I'm very visual, and that sounds like it would help!

  14. Your process is similar to mine. I don't use a white board but I might try it.

  15. The break is really important - so I find. When an idea occurs to me, I start collecting ideas for it. They seem to pop up. Eventually, I jot them in a notebook. I have to get better at writing a faster 1st draft.

  16. Different strokes for different folks indeed...My writing always starts with a character and then a story idea. I'll check out the blogfest host too. Thanks!

  17. I've never tried using a whiteboard for the outline--it does sound like a good way of getting ideas down, so I might try it sometime.

  18. I like your seven point process. Thanks for sharing.

  19. 'The break' is a good step as it allows you to get some perspective on what you've written and where the piece will go from there.

  20. Bish, glad you liked

    Terri, hope Friday's post helps

    Dezzy, I can't! It's great when inspiration hits out of the blue, but generally it doesn't

    Alex, not everyone likes outlining, but I've found it helps me throughout the process and makes the editing stage less traumatic ;)

  21. I create the characters, outline, and then just write as well. I don't take a break because by the time I finish, I don't remember how it began anyway!

  22. Hi,

    Plotter then, and a pants-on-fire writer. Love it! ;)


  23. Trisha, printing helps me to "see" it better. I try and save paper though so I just print my ms with single spaced lines at this stage.

    LA Colvin, I enjoy the read through more if I keep my notes to the minimum too.

    Amy, I have a second ms in the break stage

    Paul, I never said it was easy ;) My inner editor is constantly screaming at me and my little voice of doubt is a perpetual hum in my head.

  24. Jeffrey, yes absolutely! Sometimes once the story gets written, it tells us to go a different way.

    Jennifer, I'll often set up a stool in front of my whiteboard and just stare at all my notes and arrows. It's a great way of seeing the whole.

    Summer, I have to admit it was a somewhat new revelation to me as well.

    Old Kitty, for some people panstering works. You just have to find what works for you (doesn't matter what other people are doing)

  25. Rachna, I met one author who claimed he only wrote when he was inspired. He only has one novel published and that was four years ago. He hasn't written anything since.

    Shallee, that's precisely why it works for me too. I need that visual aid.

    Susan, I like that notes on whiteboards are so easy to change.

    M Pax, I always try to write each first draft faster than the one before (that's why outlines work for me -- I don't need to stop to wonder where I might go next in the plot)

  26. J L Campbell, a previous WIP started with a character but by the time I finished writing the character was completely different ;)

    Golden, whiteboards save paper too ;)

    Michelle, glad you liked.

    Jan, yes exactly :)

    Alex, hehe, yep, that's understandable.

    Francine, it's only recently I started outlining and I'll never go back.

  27. The drive, the need to write is so important. It is good to see it there at the forefront of your writing. The visual post-its on the storyboard is a very useful writing prompt. I feel right at home with your writing process. :)

  28. Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing :) I'm looking forward to the editing post as well, as this is where I will be in two weeks!

  29. Elaine, passion is so important

    WritingNut, that's not long. Good luck with your editing. :)

  30. I'm still fumbling through number 5. I try to get in at least 5000 words per week. I enjoyed reading about your process.

  31. I get started with an idea from a newspaper, a magazine, something, maybe a picture, then my subsconscious takes over. I plot in my head, then write on the computer.

    I enjoyed your methodical take on the writing process Lynda.

    Denise :)

  32. If I ever write a novel, my writing process would be somewhat like yours. Thanks for sharing, and for the visit to my blog.

  33. You have a great writing ethic, I found this really interesting Lynda, some great advice here

  34. Kari, 5000 words a week is a good goal.

    L'Aussie, I used to plot in my head but I think I'm getting slow in my old age. I need the extra aid of a written outline ;)

    Damyanti, no worries

    Christian, glad you liked.

  35. Super post! For me my starting point is usually a word or a sentence....I might see two squirrels doing something funny and bam I've got a pb idea....I might hear a song and get an idea for part of the ya I'm working on.

  36. Similar to this. The desire/need is always there - right now it's almost a panic attack. LOL (Current novel idea is not working right. Feel like I'm stuffing the proverbial peg in the wrong hole.) Then the idea and for me, the idea almost always comes with ending intact. I seem to prefer punchy conclusions and if I don't see one in the outcome, I MIGHT not proceed because my passion can dribble off in such instances. Fortunately, I do sometimes come up with a punch later, so I can fix the story. Once I've got that conclusion, writing the story isn't too bad because I know where I'm going. And OMG, I know why my novel isn't working. Lynda, you're a genious. I started writing the darn thing without an ending in mind! No wonder. DOH! See what happens when you don't follow your own rules? LOL Oy.

    Well, thanks for that gift. I can now let that project simmer indefinitely.

    I wanted to let you know about a giveaway/contest on my blog. Considering the gift you just gave me, I really hope you come over and win something. :D

  37. Beautiful photo, and very interesting to read about your writing process!

  38. Sharon, yes! ideas come from so many different places. The best ideas come from those unexpected places :)

    Victoria, yes, it's soooo much easier to write with the ending in mind. I'm so glad this helped you. And congrats on your 100 followers!

    Katie, I don't know how anyone could write a novel on those old fashioned typewriters ;)

  39. I tend to do the development and outlining in my head-- bad idea if I leave the work and come back to it after an extended time because I forget what I had been thinking to some extent, but it works okay if I stay in the zone and keep writing.
    I agree that the ideas are everywhere and when they arrive in our minds it's up to us to do the work it takes to development them.

    Tossing It Out


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