Over the course of the last fourteen years – yep, that’s how long it took me to achieve my dream/goal of publication – I’ve written five100k+ single title novels and seven shorter length straight romances. You think in that time, I’d have perfected SOME kind of process, but I think I’m only just finally coming to grips with how I write. Finally coming to accept that if my rambling airy-fairy way of planning and then writing from start to finish without too much stressing about content works for me, then I should embrace it, instead of read about the processes of other writers and strive to achieve what THEY do.
I have high ambitions of keeping a bible for each book. But my notebooks generally become a massive mess, holding snatches of conversation that come to me before their time/place in the book and little scene/chapter notes that I write as I go along. I don’t keep them, they are THAT bad by the time I’m finished with them. Occasionally I choose celebrity pictures of my hero and heroine, but just as often I rely on my own imagination. I only do an outline/synopsis beforehand if I’m entering the wip in a contest (not really happening at that stage anymore now I’m published). Otherwise I start with a tiny seed of an idea – in the case of JILTED (Mira, June 2012), it was a runaway bride coming back to a small, close-knit town ten years after leaving their golden boy. From that seed, characters and conflicts grew and a few key scenes/turning points dawned on me along the way. I don’t even worry TOO much about the whole GMC – if I’ve got a tincy idea, I just let it flow.
And then I start at page one. Actually, I usually like to come up with a good working title before this – for some reason, my writing never kicks off until I’ve got the right one! And then, I sit down at my trusty lap top and start tapping away.
I’m a HUGE word count watcher. I need to know constantly how far I’ve come and how far I have to go – this constant watching probably slows me down a bit, but I’ve learnt that’s just what I do.
Each day when I sit down to write, I MUST reread the previous day’s work. And, throughout the course of my writing, I often have to go back and reread the previous few paragraphs before writing another sentence/paragraph. Sometimes (shock-horror), possibly once or twice a wip, I have to go back and read from the start. I’ve found this ensures that I keep the same tone/voice throughout – helps remind me who the characters were that I’ve started with. And of course, emotionally they have to change, but other things need to be consistent – their likes/dislikes, mannerisms, dialogue, etc.
I’ve also found that writing everyday DOES help me get into the habit of writing even when my muse is taking an extended holiday. This means that some days what I write isn’t as mind-blowingly brilliant as what I wrote the day before, but I figure at least I’ve got something to work with.
Although I read back each day before writing, I don’t edit each chapter as such as I go on. I prefer to get the first draft down quite quickly and then let it sit for a week or so (depending on deadlines) before going back and cleaning/livening it up.
So, that’s my process and it works for me.
So, I hereby solemnly promise that when I read blog posts about other writers’ processes in the future, I won’t sit there and jealously wish their process was mine.
We all write in strange and wonderful ways… which is why we end up with such a diversity of great fiction on our shelves.