Okay, that title is a little misleading. I don’t actually care if I’m normal or not, cause I’m pretty sure the answer is “not” and I’m okay with that. But I am very curious about how other people write, so I thought maybe if I told how I do it, other people might stop by and share what they do too.
I’m working on my fourth manuscript. What I’m doing for this one isn’t the same as what I did for any of the previous three, as I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. For instance, the first time I wrote a novel, I invented a few characters and just started writing without any idea of what the book was even going to be about.
Now, I do outline, but not extensively. I have a list of the 7 anchor scenes, as taught to me by Lani Diane Rich in her Storywonk Revision course, and a sentence or two about where I need to be. This gives me a place to aim for, and forces me to ensure that the story moves along. I really like my characters, and I have to keep reminding myself that things aren’t supposed to be easy for them.
When I’m ready to write my first draft, I like to do it in a Nanowrimo type rush. I love getting wrapped up in my story, writing in every spare moment. More importantly, I find when I do a fast draft it’s easier to keep track of what’s going on, I don’t have to re-read and try to get my head back into the story. I also write in a straight line – from beginning to end. My dad, a technology buff, is forever researching writing programs that he thinks I should try, and if I was writing scenes out of order, I can see how they’d be very useful. But I don’t. I have to write it in the order that it happens.
Right now, I’m writing with www.mywritingnook.com, a Google app. I’m really liking it! I love the clean display (once I’ve toggled the sidebar), and the running word count total that’s easy to see. I find it really motivates me – “Oh, only 200 more words and I’ll have written 500 – if I just write another 500 I’ll be able to stop at such a nice round number – whoa, have I really written 6000 words today?” (Okay that last one just happened once lately, but still …)
Every 500 or 1000 words (depending on when I notice the milestone), I copy and paste the entire document into my word processor, replacing the previous draft, so I have an up to date draft saved in two places all the times.
I love the frequent auto-save on Mywritingnook, and the fact that my work is saved online and I can access it from any computer. If I want to work on my story on my work computer during my lunch break, I can, and very easily.
Every 10,000 words (ish), I go back and do a read through and put in all the big things that I missed. Like, for instance, if I suddenly forgot about the dog, or overlooked a character that needed to be along on the three previous scenes so that he could have an important role in this one, or change the name of a secondary character because I inadvertently (and inexplicably) used the name of a former prime minister. Yes, all three of these happened in my current work in progress, and I’m not even half way through. I also fix typos and missing words where I find them.
When I get to the end of the story, I do a final read-through, print it off, hand it off to my friends and family to read, and don’t look at it myself for a couple months at least. I like to have fresh eyes when I go to edit, and the hardcopy with the helpful notations from my readers. “?? This doesn’t make sense??” or “Who is this character? I checked – we never met him before?” or, my favorite, the time I wrote, “leant”, my aunt corrected it to “lent”, and my grandma changed it to “loaned”. The lesson? Always let Grandma do my proof reading!
After that it’s revision, which is really another story entirely.
So … how do you write? I’d love to hear how other writers do it!