Days 19-23. My fancy schmancy writing process!

Exciting title, right? Aren’t you just dying to have your socks blown off with some spectacular writing tips and tricks?

Is that setting the expectations a little too high? Probably.

Today’s post will be a bit of a departure from my usual. I don’t have any frustrations or complaints to hash out. There most likely won’t be any sarcasm or snarky remarks.

On second thought, there may be a few. It is me.

Today I thought I would explain my writing process. Now, it’s not something I’m necessarily proud of. I don’t think I use a mythical process that is superiour to anyone elses. I’m just sharing this information in hopes that someone can share a few of their own helpful suggestions, or maybe take some of mine for themselves.

When I started writing my book, I researched constantly. I scoured the internet day after day, searching for some lucrative advice. I was hoping to stumble across the hidden secret to tackling such a giant project, that one golden nugget that would “click” into my mind and turn me into a writing machine.

What I found instead was more overwhelming. There are tons of processes and guides out there. Everyone writes differently, and everyone has their own opinion on how you should write. I quickly realized I couldn’t find a single process I agreed with whole-heartedly. So I improvised and took a few tips from each one.

Side note: I was going to commit to the snowflake method, but do you realize how complicated snowflakes are? They are nothing like I used to draw as a child!

After forming my own mental collage of tricks, I nailed down my 3 step system.

Step One: The Moleskine.
Now before you say anything, I know this is a “hipster” notebook. I also know it makes me sound kind of pretentious, but when I was younger I used to lust after those overpriced notebooks. Every artistic person I admired had one. I dreamed of one day being deserving of such a notebook. (As it turns out, you don’t need artistic abilities to own a Moleskine. You need about 18 bucks.)
Anyway, I love to take notes. I can’t really work something out in my mind unless I put it down on paper first. In my Moleskine, I write my ideas as they come to me. I write it down even if I don’t think it’ll make it into my book. Instead of just mulling the idea over in my head, I write it down and move on. If it needs to be revisited, it’s in there. If it turns out to be crap, I can cross it out. This is where I write down characters I think up, plot lines I haven’t completely figured out, bits of conversation I hear, etc. I usually carry this around with me so I can jot things down on the go. I’ve noticed that inspiration hits at the most inoppurtune moments.
Also: it’s a conversation starter. You can’t just whip out your Moleskine in a frenzy and not have someone notice!

Step Two: The Binder
While my Moleskine is an idea dump, my binder is where the final information goes. I have it divided into tabs. There’s a tab for the outline, characters, facts about government/society, and scenes. (There are a few more but they’re unique to my story.) When I finalize a character, I write down a basic summary of the person. When I finalize a scene, I write out the setting and dialogue. This binder houses the most important pieces of my book, so all that’s left for me to do is connect them through writing.
Now I say everything is “final” in my binder, but that’s not always the case. As anyone who is writing a story knows, things change and adapt. So sometimes I have to rewrite things in my binder. (Sometimes this is because my main character visits me in my dreams and yells at me. It’s true. See previous blog posts.)

Step Three: Write!
This step is pretty self explanatory. I write. I find it really useful that I have so many of the big pieces written out in my binder. This means that writing, for me, is mostly just expanding and connecting. I write everyday. I write even on days I don’t feel like it. I write even when everything I write is crap. Having the binder and Moleskine makes it a lot easier for me. I always have an idea of where I’m headed, and a reference point to look back on.

I know this seems a bit extensive to some. I wish I was one of those people that could just sit down and write. Unfortunately, I am a meticulous planner. I can’t focus unless I have the next 10 things planned out. So this is what works for me.

Do YOU have any tips/suggestions on how I can improve my process? What process do you use?

Days 19-23 are down! 161 days to go!

P.S. Further defending my madness: My story doesn’t take place in society today. It actually takes place about 100 years into the future. Having this system helps me plan out what the world looks like at that point. It might not be necessary for a story that takes place in this time period.

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10 thoughts on “Days 19-23. My fancy schmancy writing process!

  1. Your process sounds like it works for you. Mine is accomplished mostly on my computer, but I also jot down plot notes, outlines, characters, and scene ideas in a journal. Regardless of the personal process preferences, the most important step is definitely your third one: Write! Keep it up!

  2. When I get writer’s block, I go back to outlining, identifying themes and conflicts in the story, and make an effort to fall back in love with my story and the world I created around it. Besides that, I find that I continue to write, even if I am not sure what to say. Some days I may spend the first half the day putting in a comma, just to spend the second half of the day removing it. I still call that progress.

    • Thank you for sharing your process. I think I’ll take a leaf from your book next time I have writers block. Normally, I just throw my hands up in the air and curse the writing gods. Your process sounds like a more mentally stable option.

  3. I think your process sounds lovely. I’m not sure if anyone should suggest to change it, if it works for you. There are as many theories on how to write as there are writers. I think the real skill, craft if you will, comes in the revision. That is where real magic is made. If you can take your story – now fleshed out – and iron away the wrinkles, heighten the emotion, and up the tempo, you’ve really accomplished something.

    • I’m sure I’ll need a lot of tips when it comes to the revision stage. Wading through all this word vomit seems daunting. Thankfully, I have a few months left before I’m there 🙂

  4. Pingback: When did you know you were a writer and do you call yourself one? | Reflections of a Restless Raconteur

  5. Pingback: Notes on Keeping a Notebook | DanielNester.com

  6. Hey there Mariah!

    Like you I keep a notebook that I use to jot down ideas whenever they hit. I also use the notepad on my cell phone for that same purpose. And like you I keep a binder. In it I have outlines, notes, photos and magazine clippings that have sparked ideas. I also keep my “original concept” notes in there. I have strayed away from the main idea from time to time, so having those notes helps keep me grounded.

    Another thing that I did was to make a collage using words and images that remind me of my story. I’m a very visual person so this is helpful and somewhat therapeutic. The process makes my character’s world seem more real. Once I read an author’s blog that recommended building a collage for each act of your novel. I think I may try that next.

    Keep writing & believing!

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