A few weeks back I was asked what my writing process was. How I went about writing my novels. I became tongue-tied and couldn’t articulate a good response. Any other writers out there have that problem? Being able to write a decent piece of prose but sounding like a babbling idiot when you talk?
Every writer has a method to their madness. Some are seat of their pants writers. They sit down at the keyboard and just write whatever. I used to do that when I was younger… it was not an effective process for me. Plots would change on a whim, dialogue took forever and often sounded cheesy, and the lack of planning showed up in the story. The quality was poor. If I don’t have an idea of where I need to start or where I am going, then I had better stop before I get in too deep.
Finding a certain subject can be tricky. I’ve had my share of false starts. These are the stories that just fizzle out after the first few chapters and you know it’s better to forget about what you’ve written and start on something else. Usually my subjects of choice find me. For an example, my current WIP is set during the Great Depression in Indiana. It is probably no coincidence that I focused on Indiana so near its bicentennial. It must have been on my mind. Also, the past, history, my grandparents are often in my thoughts. My grandparents lived during the Great Depression, so it is only natural that at some point in my life I write about Hoosiers and my state. It was the Deep Calling Unto the Deep.
I usually write a detailed synopsis of an idea and then on notebook paper I write outlines of the scenes and dialog that will end up in the story. I put all of these notes on the computer and then go over them twenty or thirty times, trying to improve upon it. I separate the scenes into chapters and go from there. That’s when the real writing begins.
It takes me two or three months to write a very crappy first draft (and believe me, all first drafts are crappy). But then again, I’m a slow writer, averaging at 1000 to 1500 words (if I am very lucky) a day. My mind is only good enough to write twice a day, after lunch and in the evening. Otherwise my brain turns to mush.
If I can give any advice to any other writers out there, here it is: don’t write formula fiction. It’s a waste of time. I’ve tried it, just to get my foot in the door. Unless you have your heart is in your project, then there is no point. Better to write something you are truly passionate about than waste what talent you do have on subpar stories. Also, do not limit yourself to one story. I made the huge mistake of devoting myself to one novel for several years, and nothing came of it. Be sure to have a Plan B. And then a Plan C. And after that a Plan D. That is my two cents’ worth, take it for what it is.