Monday, 24 March 2014

Know Your Process

Recently I have found myself thinking about my writing process.  Every writer must have a different process that they go through when starting and completing a new piece of work and I am always fascinated when I read about another writer's process.  I'm nosy like that.
There's three main processes that interest me and I have detailed my own processes under those three headings below.  I think it is important as a writer to know your own process and what works best for you.  As I am starting the writing of my third book, I am only just getting to know my own processes, quirks and superstitions.  I'd love to hear about yours too!

Leading up to...
It takes anywhere between three and twelve months for the idea to form and come together in my mind for a book length work.  During this time I don't do any writing, but I might collect bits of notes, photographs and pictures that link in with the idea.  Most of this part of the process is done in my head though and usually starts from a dream.  During this stage I am normally working on the previous book, so I am always working on something.
Then there comes approximately a month of planning.  During this month I will complete character profiles, brief chapter outlines and a simple synopsis to make sure that the story has legs for a novel-length work.  This is my favourite part of the process.  I don't like to plan in too much detail otherwise it takes all of the creativity out of the actual writing, but I like to have enough planned so that at each writing session I know what I am doing and the general direction the story is going.

The Actual Writing...
This part of the process takes me approximately six to ten months and I will end up with around 60,000 words of a first draft.  This is because I only write the bare bones of the story, leaving any description and embellishment to the second draft.
The second draft will take around three months, where I will edit and rewrite until the book is complete at around 90,000-100,000 words.  After a few weeks of 'sitting time', I will do a final proofread.

My Routine...
This is actually an extension of the actual writing.  This is all about my little quirks and superstitions - my preferred equipment, time and place.  This is always the most interesting to me when I read about other writers' processes and routines.

  • I have to write my book long-hand in a Pukka Pad Vellum 80GSM (with the yellow pages), with Paper Mate Flair Original felt pens in an assortment of colours (blue or black for writing and brighter colours for planning and editing).
  • Above are some photographs of my office at home.  It is sandwiched between the master and guest bedrooms.  This is where I like to write - with the door closed.
  • My optimal time for writing is in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep - in complete silence, except for the weather.
  • I have to have a cup of hot tea or coffee and a million cigarettes (naughty I know, but my only vice).
  • I write for half hours at a time with ten or fifteen minutes break in between.  I can write around 500 words in half an hour long-hand.
  • My house has to be completely spotless and organised around me.  Any mess and I can't concentrate.
  • I like a nice scent - spicy, orange or anything citrus.  Airwick Plug-in's are my favourite.
  • I like to write with no time pressures - no where else to go and nothing else to do, which is probably why I like to write in the dead of night.
So there we are!  I hope you enjoy reading about my writing process and I hope that you will share yours.

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