Paper Trails: My Writing Process, Currently

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I love talking about writing. But since I’ve recently started working on my first novel, I feel like it’d be weird for me to give writing advice, because I’m still figuring it out as I go! So I thought I’d give you a snapshot of my process as it is right now, and I can give new updates the further along I get. I’m thinking it might turn into a fun series, and I’m excited to be able to look back at the process. And I’m always excited to hear about other people’s creative processes, so I’d love to hear about yours — whether you’re an artist, a musician, a baker, a crafter — whatever medium you use, I’m all ears!


What I’m working on:


A fantasy/ alternative history novel set in 17th centruy France. Expect lots of elves fighting over the throne with some humans who get caught up in the craziness. (You can read a little bit more about it here and here.)


Where I Am:


I’m at the beginning of the fourth chapter of my novel, and I’m really excited! The third chapter was a BEAST to get through, partially because I was moving characters from point A to point B, while setting up a big scene to happen at point B. I’m sure that some of that chapter will end up on the cutting room floor during the editing process, but I wanted to get it all down so I would have plenty of material to work with later. (I’m sure Future-Tabitha will really appreciate that!)


I know that chapter 4 is still really early in the novel, but it’s way farther along than I’ve ever gotten in a creative writing project before, so I want to take the time to celebrate that without losing my momentum.


My Process:


I have a pretty solid outline, so I start each chapter (I actually call them “blurbs” — as in Blurb 1, Blurb 2 — because that seems much less final and intimidating than “chapter” for some reason) with an idea of what needs to happen for the plot, plus a specific image of a scene, a line of dialogue, or an exchange between characters. Sometimes it’s at the end, sometimes somewhere in the middle, but it gives me something concrete to hold onto as I “fill in” the rest of the chapter. I’ve had several surprises along the way, including a secondary antagonist that I hadn’t been planning on, but I have a feeling is going to be pretty important later on. I love writing surprises like that!


The biggest surprise so far though, was the fact that I have a hard time writing at night. I tend to be a night owl, and in college most of my best writing happened  between 6 – 12 pm. I thought that would carry over into my fiction writing, but it hasn’t at all  — lately if I don’t get my writing done before I get home from work, it’s probably not going to get done (or it’s going to be complete torture while I write it).  So that’s taken some getting used to.


I’m thinking about waking up earlier in the mornings (sob) to see if I can get a workout in and hit my writing goal for the day before work. Then I can read during my lunch break (or write if I’m feeling really motivated), and then come home and focus on “home stuff” before getting in some downtime. Even though I can’t write worth a cuss in the evenings, my best brainstorming/ worldbuilding tends to happen at night, so I usually end up watching Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen with Teddy, and then doing some brainstorming (which sometimes looks a lot like scrolling through Pinterest and Tumblr, but don’t be fooled.)


What’s coming next:


Lots and lots and lots of writing, until I finish the rough draft. Then I’m planning on setting it aside for a bit while I start on my next project. I also have some ideas for a way to continue the story into a series, but I think my first project is going to be an urban fantasy + murder mystery. I’m hoping to have some more concrete plot ideas by the time I’m wrapping up the rough draft so I can jump straight into the new project. Then a few weeks later I’ll pick up the rough draft and start editing — oi!


I think this will be a fun series, especially because most writing advice I’ve read is focused on fixing plot problems instead of the actual writing process logistics. (Like how do you organize chapters? How do you keep your secondary character’s straight?)

What is your creative process like? I’d love to know!

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