How I Write. Am I normal or not?

07 Mar

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, 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!


Posted by on March 7, 2011 in writing


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6 responses to “How I Write. Am I normal or not?

  1. L.E.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I go about my first draft in a similar way. Similar as in I write it all in order from beginning to end. I don’t necessarily approve of editing (whatever or however small) before the draft is done. I get distracted -.-. I feel like this is an easier way to start writing for those who aren’t used to the longer drafts.

    • Kendra Gale

      March 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      I know, you’re right, you’re not supposed to go back and edit at all. But when I realize that something needs to change in order to carry the plot, if I don’t go back to fix it, I’ll think of nothing else and get no new writing done until I do.

      A good point to consider, so many people seem to get wrapped up in editing that they never get to the end of the story – thanks for stopping by!

  2. Joselyn Vaughn

    March 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    My first draft is very similar, except I handwrite it in a cute notebook. If I come to something I’ll need to add earlier, I make a note in the margin and keep going. Once that is done, then I type it. I don’t do much revising then. It’s mostly lamenting how slowly I type.

    My second and onward drafts get more organized. I’ll have a calendar with the scenes or a spreadsheet with scenes, POV, plot details. I’ll add notes to that of where I need to rearrange things or add scenes or make sure details are in certain scenes. My critique group really helps with this process.

    I am intrigued by the Mywritingnook. I’ll have to look into it.

    • Kendra Gale

      March 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

      You write longhand, that’s amazing! I have this gorgeous, leather bound notebook that a friend gave me for Christmas, but I can’t make myself write in it … what if I have to scribble something out on those perfect thick pages with the flower petals in them? I can’t do it. Also, I type faster than I write … maybe I should type in your rough drafts for you! 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your process Joselyn!!

  3. Charlotte

    March 8, 2011 at 3:26 am

    I’m finding that writing the first draft quickly (or as quickly as I can manage around everything else in my day) works best for me, too, and definitely in order. I can’t imagine writing scenes out of sequence. I think I’d get very confused.

    I’m also a firm believer in NO EDITING until the end. This is because my last project (which will be resurrected someday) died out through too many trips back to change things. It muddled and distracted me far too much. I’ve taken to leaving notes for myself in the text if I think of something I really need to change. I write it in brackets, highlighted in a different colour. When it’s time to edit I’ll collect up all of those notes and do them in order.

    I’m planning a blog post about good novel-writing programmes and apps soon, so I’m intrigued to hear about the ones you use. I haven’t heard of them before. I hope you’ll stop by and share some more details about these in due course.

    • Kendra Gale

      March 8, 2011 at 8:31 am

      I have a very good friend who is a talented writer, but she’s so worried about getting it perfect, that she ends up with one, amazing chapter, and never gets to the end of the story. You’re right, editing while drafting can be a very dangerous road! Leaving notes is a good idea!

      I’ll keep an eye on your blog – thanks for stopping by Charlotte!


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