Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Writing Process

I've noticed some other writers doing blog hop posts about their writing process, which looked like a lot of fun. I haven't been tagged for a blog hop, and I won't use a fixed set of questions, but I thought I'd go rogue and join in. Other writers' routines and habits have always interested me.

My process:

1. Drafting

When the first draft is going well, there's nothing like it. When it's going really, really well? It's like what the main character in Stephen King's Misery says: the page opens up and you fall in. Hours go by in a blink. Words and ideas flow. Fortunately, first drafts are allowed to suck. Usually, mine are like 200+ pages of word vomit. And that's okay.

When I'm writing a book, I usually get down about 1000 words on weekdays--between meals, laundry, cleaning, shopping, kids, etc--and 2500+ on the weekend. I write on a laptop, which lives on my desk in the office/sitting room area. This room is on the main floor next to the kitchen and has no door for privacy:

Or I write in my bedroom (which does have a door, obviously), where I sit on the bed, my back propped up with pillows, laptop table on my lap. (No, I'm not posting a pic of my bedroom)

It takes me anywhere from three to nine months to complete a first draft.

2. Revision

Usually, unless I'm doing NaNoWriMo, I revise as I go, reading over what I wrote the date before and then continuing. When Draft #1 is done, I go through the entire thing again on my laptop and edit page by page. Then I put it on my Kindle, which is a GREAT way to catch spelling errors and flow issues, and read it from beginning to end again. When I'm done, I go back to the laptop and fix mistakes, edit, rework, and deal with any pacing or consistency problems.

3. Beta Readers

I cannot stress enough how important this step is. Beta readers can be fellow writers or even just a friend who loves to read. Anyway, a good beta reader is honest and direct. They will tell you what works and what doesn't. They will catch mistakes and inconsistencies that you missed. They will praise the good, but also point out the bad. And there will be bad.

4. Revise Again

Now that I have notes from my beta readers, I do yet another revision. I take their suggestions and implement whatever screams "Oh my God, how did I not see that, they're totally right." Then I send re-worked scenes/chapters to my beta readers to make sure I'm on the right track. Then I read the manuscript on my Kindle again. After that, I go back for a final run-through until it's as perfect as possible. (By this time, I'm kinda getting sick of my own words.)

5. Send to Agent (if publishing traditionally)

My manuscript is now ready to be sent to my agent Carly. She reads it and sends me input on how to improve plot/characters/stakes. Carly always sends me fantastic edit notes, and it was mainly because of her spot-on suggestions that my fourth book, Faking Perfect, received three offers and then went on to get a two-book deal with Kensington Publishing.

Once I get my agent's notes, I proceed to--you guessed it--another revision. I think about Carly's notes, make changes, and send the manuscript back. While she's reading a second time, I work on evil-but-necessary things like the book synopsis (*shudder*). Then, once we're both happy with the revisions, off it goes on submission.

6. Formatting (if self-publishing)

I'm a hybrid author. From Writer's Digest: "A hybrid author is one who refuses to accept that there exists One True Way up the Publishing Mountain and who embraces all the methods available. The hybrid author prefers a diverse approach to getting her work out there, which means utilizing both the traditional system of publishing and also acting as an author-publisher in order to retain control and self-publish her own work."

For books I self-publish, I skip #5 and go to formatting for Amazon/Kobo/Smashwords/CreateSpace. By now, my book has been read and reread and edited so many times that I think I'd rather perform a root canal on myself with an icepick than look at it one more freaking time. But I do. I spend days formatting, periodically loading the finished product on my e-reader to see if it looks okay. By now, I have a cover and description and release date. I've also started marketing.

7. Publishing

For my traditionally-published books, the actual act of publishing is done for me. I'll admit, at this point, I'm very early in this particular process and not much has happened yet, so I can't truly describe it. For my self-published books, everything is up to me. I promote, hit the "publish" button on my pre-arranged release date, promote some more, do giveaways for visibility and reviews, etc. etc.

That's it! My book is now out in the world (or about to be). So, what do I do next? Ideally, this: