Friday, June 12, 2020

My Writing Process in 18 Gifs

Let's talk about my writing process. 

I know, I know. Self-centered, much? 

I'm writing this post because I occasionally have people ask about how I go about writing stories. I've never written a blog post on this topic because it is top secret information and...

Just kidding. I always felt that my process is very specific to me personally and thus wouldn't really help anyone. But then I remembered: 

Today is Thursday and I have zero blog post ideas. So. 

Let's do this thing! Behold. My writing process in 18 gifs. 

Step 1: Get pumped about a shiny new idea. 

My story ideas start out very basic. Usually my brain just thinks of random, cool-sounding concepts and screams them at me until I write them. For example: AZTEC VAMPIRES! ANGRY DESERT ELF BOI

I take a few days to be excited by this new, shiny thing, then get to work. 

Step 2: Generate a plot. 

Easier said than done? Absolutely. I have written an entire blog post on how I generate a full-on story idea, so I'd recommend reading that. It usually takes me under and hour and is fairly bare-bones, but it gives me a jumping-off point. It also gives me what I need for step 3...

Step 3: Perform a few writing rituals.  

Before writing each story, I create a list of words and phrases that sum up the emotions I'm hoping to convey in the story. I also find an image that reminds me of my main character, and this image I keep in my line of vision as I write. I also usually light a candle, do a small dance, then stand on my head for thirty seconds while singing the Happy Birthday backwards. 

Y'know. Normal stuff.

Step 4: Block out the scenes. 

I write a few sentences to describe each scene, AKA: Blocks. Each block mentions the plot point, as well as main emotions I want to convey. I piece them together like a puzzle until I have a very basic idea of major plot points. 

This allows me to identify gaping plot holes before I completely fall into them and die a terrible death. 

Step 5: Write the end-scene first. Or don't. 

I write the end-scene first about 60% of the time (read my post on that here). However, occasionally I write a story that I can see about three or four possible endings for. I scribble down their descriptions in 2-3 sentences so I don't forget them, but I don't write all of them out because that's a waste of energy and words. 

Step 6: Find the character's voice. 

Some people call this drafting. I do not. Drafting actually kind of stresses me out so my hope is that, by renaming the process, it will be easier on me. Does this work? Not at all. But we'll talk about that later. 

What it does do, however, is give me room to find my character's voice, discover their POV, learn their word usage, and just generally start to feel comfortable writing their story. 

Step 7: Panic. 

I usually get about 1/3rd of the way through a story before deciding that something is off. Really off. Sometimes it's the character motivation. Sometimes it's the plot. Sometimes it's the world-building. Sometimes it's all of these. Either way, it's a horrifying realization and always, always sends me into a panic. Despite the fact that I've been through this seven times at this point and know that panic not only doesn't help, but also is unnecessary because I always figure it out in the end. 


My brain sucks like that.

Step 8: Try (and fail) to fix it. 

I re-block the story to try to fix whatever hole I've found. It's like a massive, brain-addling puzzle. But the new version of the story is sooooooo much better now and --

Nope. It still sucks.

Step 9: Cry and/or swear.

A lot. 

Step 10: Rinse and repeat. 

I often get anywhere between one eighth to three quarters of the way through a new version of the story before ditching it because it sucks. When this happens, I go back  to re-blocking, swearing, and questioning my life choices. 

What? I never claimed to be an efficient writer. 

Step 11: Macro edit. 

Finally. Finally. The rough draft is done. And by rough, I mean rough. Sure, it's the shiniest and complete-est of the other six versions I abandoned before getting to this one. But still. The character voice is probably a bit (or a lot) inconsistent. Maybe I switched world-building halfway through the story and now need to go back and fix that. Perhaps there's some weird info-dumping or thematically inconsistent dialogue. 

I print the story out and go through with four different pen colors, each with a specific meaning. You can read about that here. 

This is my absolute favorite part of the writing process. It is here that I can finally start to see the intended story shining through the mess that is my rough draft. It's exciting and beautiful and I love it with all of my heart. 

Step 12: Micro edit. 

I. hate. this. So much. I have a personal hatred for punctuation, spelling, and grammar rules, but I try to clean those issues up as much as possible so that I don't confuse my beta readers with dumb mistakes. However, I don't get too technical with things at this point.

That specific type of horror will come later. 

Step 13: Send to beta readers, then panic. 

In case you hadn't noticed, there is a lot of panic involved in my writing process. Don't judge me.

I have a very specific way that I go about getting feedback from beta readers, which is a process you can read about here

I send my story and the accompanying questions off to my betas, then sit back and wait. And panic. And panic some more. 

Step 14: Macro edit. Again. 

It never ends, people. It never ends. 

Using my beta-reader's feedback, I do yet another round of macro editing. And also maybe some more panicking.

Step 15: Send to editors. 

I know a few people who are very good at editing. Each of them have specific strong points that I entirely lack. For instance, they actually know where commas go, unlike me, who just puts them whereever I want readers to pause in a sentence, which I feel should be a valid usage but apparently is not? I am still very bitter about that, in case you can't tell. 

Step 16: Become sick of the sight of the story. 

By the time I get edits back, I am very, very tired of this story. I've read it through about 18 times, but it feels like 42 billion. And I am done. DONE. Even though the story is objectively excellent, I hate it and find it boring and just don't want to ever see it again. It's not personal. 

Or is it?

Step 17: Publish. 


Step 18: Celebrate and be proud. 

I usually make myself something yummy to eat, watch a favorite movie, and squeal about this new publication to anyone who will listen. All the swearing? The crying? The I-don't-want-to-see-this-story-ever-again-ing? Those emotions are long gone. All I feel is pride and accomplishment and excitement. 

And maybe a little (or a lot) of fatigue, because dang. Writing is hard. 

And then I start the entire process all over again with a new story. Because I am apparently a masochist? 

So now I'm curious. Does my writing process match yours at all? Let's chat!

Related articles: 
5 Steps to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity

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  1. Why does this sound an awful lot like my creative process? LOL.

  2. Love it! All the panic, wow! If you replace 'panic' with 'despair', that's me.

  3. Outstanding post, I believe people should acquire a lot from this blog its real user genial.
    Writing Process

  4. Macro editing is the worsttttttt it's so hard. At least I'm not alone in my struggles with it

  5. How would you recommend going about a complete revision of your worldbuilding? What if it didn't work at all, and you had to basically start from scratch? Is your story doomed? What if you can't come up with a way to fix it?

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