It seems that every time I get within four to five days of my next blog post’s due date, I end up in a mad scramble to get something useful down for the readers of this blog. Well… this time around is no different, but I thought I’d write about something a little more personal this time: my story-writing process. (My blog post-writing process is just a panicked sprint to the finish line).
This is something that’s unique to every writer out there—some fill the walls of their writing space with minutely-detailed post-its during the plotting process—others don’t plot at all. Some write several thousand words in one sitting, while some write only a couple hundred on a good day.
My method breaks just about every familiar writing tradition (myth)? out there, and ends up somewhere in between pantsing and plotting. Since I'm such a terrible rule-breaker, I thought I'd show you my process through a series of confessions. ;P
Confession #1: I don’t carry a notebook for jotting down story ideas. I find it kind of inconvenient, and don’t really enjoy writing by hand. [distant screaming] However, I still have a strange, groundless obsession with pretty notebooks and pens. (I know, I'm weird).
So what do I do with plot bunnies? I figure if they’re meant to be, they’ll stick around.
When I do have an idea that eventually turns into a fully-fledged book, it’s usually because it did stick around and I discussed it with my sister. Having someone to talk over plot ideas with is invaluable. Sometimes simply saying ideas out loud helps me realize that they’re just a bit too crazy for the story I’m writing, or leads me into lovely new territories. (Plus, the person you talk it over with is bound to have some golden inspiration to contribute as well).
Then, I just try and remember what we talked about. :P If I forget anything, it just wasn’t meant to be written. (Although if I'm wise I fill out some kind of character development sheet for the main ones). And how long does this talking-it-out period last before I write anything? Months, if possible. The longer I think about characters, their world, and the plot, the easier it is to write, and the better it comes out in the end. (When I’m not writing, I’m editing, but that’s a topic for another post).
Confession #2: I write on Scrivener, and edit/format my books on Microsoft Word. [police sirens in the distance] There’s a lot of negativity out there surrounding Word, but it makes good eBooks. I’ve heard that Scrivener doesn’t do them as well, but I can’t attest to that, since I’ve never tried it. But I do write on Scrivener, since I don’t need all of Word’s formatting bells and whistles for that part of the process.
And how does that “process” go down? I get up every morning with the intention that I am going to write that day. I also try to pray before I get started, to ask God for help writing the story only He can write. Usually it happens in the morning hours, but sometimes I’ll go into the afternoon if the words are coming easily.
Since I like to let my plot simmer for a long time, I usually have a pretty good idea what I’m going to write each time I sit down at my laptop to do it, so I don't have to face the dreaded white screen for long. Most of the time—not always. There are usually unplanned scenes and characters that sneak their way in, and that’s just part of the glorious thrill of discovery.
Then I write a chapter at a time. My chapters are usually about 1,000 words long, give or take a little. It’s how I wrote chapters when I first started writing, and it’s one of the very few things that hasn’t changed since then. I try and write at least one every day, but sometimes I write two or three of them, and they can take anywhere from one to two hours apiece. (I'm a fairly slow writer in that regard).
Confession #3: I don’t snack while writing. I don’t even drink tea or coffee while I’m at it, either. [cue the sound of Darla entering the dentist’s office of Finding Nemo] When I’m in the zone, I just don’t like being interrupted. Sure, chocolate is great—when I’m not writing. The same goes for coffee. (Yes, there is coffee in the picture above, but that's just because I liked that photo). :P I’m sorry, all ye snackers and caffeine junkies. It’s just not for me.
Confession #4: I don’t listen to music while I write. [enter ironic silence] I find it insanely distracting. I love film scores, I just don’t use them for writing.
Confession #5: I don’t have a special room to write in, or desk to do it on. [trash cans clanking, glass breaking, and cat yowling in some alley somewhere] I usually write in the living room. My family knows to leave me alone while I’m writing, at risk of vacant stares and/or glares because someone is dying and you want to talk about lunch?? (Sorry, Family)!
So, basically, I write in the living room (where I could be interrupted), in boring silence, without tea, coffee, or salty-sweet snacks, every morning like a job (because it is a job). That’s my very un-romantic path to getting words on the page, but it works for me. How does your routine compare?
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people closer to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!