Tag Archives: writing

My Writing Process

Lately more and more people have been asking me about my writing process. This interest probably stems from my comments about editing. Friends, family, and sometimes even strangers are intrigued. They want to peek inside my brain to see what writing is like for me. It’s crazy.

I’m simultaneously puzzled and flattered by the curiosity. Let’s be frank: I’m nothing close to Stephen King. No matter how small-time I feel, I’m happy to oblige. Whether I’m writing a blog post, a short story, or a novel, this is basically my writing process.

1. Inspiration. The madness starts when an idea falls into my head, seemingly from out of nowhere. Sadly there isn’t an Idea Store. Whenever an idea comes to me, I record it and work on fleshing it out. Fun fact: I don’t outline.

2. First draft. I get this sucker down as fast as I can. When it comes to first drafts, it’s okay write crap. Even if I feel like what I’m writing is abysmal, I focus on getting it down somewhere. You can fix a bad page; you can’t fix a blank one. I can write the first draft of a blog post in half an hour, a shorty story in an hour, and a novel in six weeks.

3. Cooling off. I don’t have much of a cooling off period for blog posts. For short stories, I tend to wait about a day before diving into revision. For novels, I can take anywhere from one to three months. I like to distance myself from the material. The more objectivity I can approach it with, the better.

4. Read through and notes. This part is painful. By this point I’ve forgotten how awful my first draft is and am not looking forward to reminding myself. Once I’ve printed my work out or exported it to my Kindle (so I’m not tempted to edit as I read), I go through it in one sitting and make note of what needs fixing.

5. Second draft. Armed with my notes and a plan of attack, I dive headfirst into revision. Sometimes this means minor changes. More often than not, it means a nearly complete rewrite. The YA novel I’m editing at the moment is the latter. It’s a struggle.

6. Rinse and repeat. Keep going until you can’t edit anymore. When it’s finished, you’ll know. Reward yourself for your hard work and work on publication!

The time it takes me to complete a project may vary, but on the whole, this is my general writing process. Feel free to try out my system for yourself. Remember, however, that the ideal writing process is whichever one works best for you.

What’s your writing process like? What are you currently working on?

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How to Get Writing Done When You Can’t Shut the Door

In an ideal world we would all have spaces dedicated to writing. We’d have rooms or closets or storage spaces where would could close the door. We could physically separate ourselves from the world. Nothing would distract us from doing the work.

I’m writing this from the living room of my grandma’s house. It’s impossible to close myself off while I’m here. If I go into another room, someone follows and strikes up a conversation. Every single time. Without fail.

Sometimes it’s not possible to go somewhere and write, with a physical door between you and your surroundings. Like right now, for instance. I’m stuck in the living room. Luckily, I have a few tips to help you focus even when you can’t shut the door for some reason.

Use music as a form of “shutting the door.” If you can’t get somewhere private, turn on Pandora and plug in some headphones. Even if you’re not playing anything, most people will leave you alone if you’re wearing headphones. Turn the music up and you won’t hear anyone. It’ll be easier to get lost in your own little world.

Write when people are sleeping. I stayed up late last night to get some writing done. If you’re a morning person, try to rise before the sun. When the house is quiet, it’s easier to concentrate. The best part? No one else will be awake enough to bother you.

Communicate. Tell your friends and loved ones how much writing means to you. If they love you, they’ll understand when you tell them you need to set aside time for your work. You can even schedule time to hang out with them later so they know they’ll get to see you. Honesty and openness can get you a long way.

While all of these methods have worked for me before, I’ve found that nothing beats getting behind a closed door. Feel free to try some of these. If you don’t like them, move on. Find what works for you. What matters is that you write, not how you get the writing done.

What do you think?

On Facing Fear

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I haven’t had the courage. This post is honest, frank, and uncomfortable. I’m going to reveal something about myself that I’m not proud of. In doing so, I hope I can inspire someone else who might be struggling with similar issues.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about fear.

A year or so ago, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. I put it away. I let it breathe. I wanted to put some distance between the novel and me so I could view it objectively the next time we saw each other.

I had planned to start revisions this past May, but you know what?

My fear and apprehension had other plans.

As of writing this post, the only step I’ve taken in the revision process is the read-through. I’ve made some notes, but I haven’t gone through with any changes. Why?

Because I’m terrified.

I’m afraid once I start cutting, there will be nothing left. I’m afraid I’ll never make this novel concept work. I’m afraid it won’t be good—no, more than that, I’m afraid it will suck.

When it comes right down to it, I’m afraid of failure.

Let me tell you something—it’s okay to be afraid. In fact, it’s normal. The issue with fear is that it can keep you from achieving your goals if you don’t rise up to challenge it. I realized recently that I’ll never accomplish the very thing I’ve been dreaming of (publication) if I don’t, for lack of a better phrase, suck it up and move on. If I want to finish this novel, I have to face my fears.

And you know what? Moving forward scares me more than I can say, but I’m doing it anyway. I’m pushing ahead.

In writing this blog post, I’m hoping you all will hold me accountable. That means more to me than you can know.

I’m facing my fear. Why don’t you face yours?

Go on. Write something.

Discussion: Do You Keep a Writer’s Notebook?

One of the first essays about creative writing I ever read was “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion. It’s one of the most influential pieces I’ve read. In the essay, Didion discusses how keeping a little notebook with her at all times has affected her writing life and overall creativity.

Discussion: Do You Keep a Writer's Notebook? Maybe you should think about it.

Your notebook, as a writer, is a private place where you can record novel ideas, snippets of conversation to recreate in dialogue, and wayward thoughts with no discernible shape that could come in handy some day. In Didion’s words: “We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker” (3-4). The notebook is for your own personal benefit. You don’t have to show it to anyone else.

What do you think of keeping a writer’s notebook? Do you have one? What do you put in it? How do you think it has helped you as a writer?

Lovely Links 07.30.14-08.06.14

Hello, August! This year is going by so fast–I can’t believe it. It’ll be 2015 before you know it.

Enough of my digressing. Let’s get to this month’s links!

There are the links! Enjoy!

What do you think of these links? Do you have any recommendations?

Why You Should Use Wattpad

Photo credit:Twitter

Photo credit: Twitter

I just started using Wattpad and I already love it. I could kick myself for not signing up sooner. Like every other trend, I was reluctant to hop on the bandwagon for this site right away. I put it off for ages.

Finally, I joined.

“What is Wattpad?” you might ask. That’s a question I can answer. Wattpad lets you post poems, novels, short stories, fan fiction, and so much more. It’s a great place to upload your work, interact with other writers, and get feedback and advice about your pieces.

Once you start posting chapters or sections of your novel, people will read, review, and vote for it. This interest will motivate you to keep writing. If you want to maintain your following on Wattpad, you should try to update at least once every 3-7 days.

The coolest thing about Wattpad is that so many authors there have gotten book deals via the site. You never know what could happen! 😉

Seriously, though, Wattpad can be the key to staying motivated when working on something long-term, like a novel. If it sounds interesting, you should totally sign up! And feel free to follow me! 🙂

What do you think of Wattpad? Any other websites like it that you want to recommend?

Tweet tweet:

“@Wattpad is a free online resource more writers should be using,” says @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)

Have you heard of @Wattpad? Writer @thecollegenov wants to tell you all about it. (Click to tweet)

Lovely Links 06.30.14 – 07.06.14

Photo credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

Photo credit: Berit Watkin on Flickr

Happy July, everyone!

June felt like just a flash in the pan. Where did the time go?

Here are this month’s links:

You may have noticed that I’m giving you five more links than usual. From now on, I think I’m going to do ten! Isn’t that exciting?

What do you think of these links? What other articles or resources should I be aware of?

Tweet tweet:

Check out these lovely writing links via @thecollegenov. (Click to tweet)