Finding the Process

I think I’ve figured out my way forward in the book, though it requires backtracking a few chapters to make some adjustments to set up what happens later.

This probably needs to be built into any schedule I make going forward. I’m going to need a day midway through the book to review what I’ve done and plan the rest. I can count on that. It’s happened in almost everything I’ve written, no matter how much plotting I’ve done up front.

Figuring out your process is a big part of writing. There’s a lot of advice out there about how you “should” work, but it comes down to what works for you, and you need to take that into account when you make plans or set deadlines. You figure it all out by trial and error. Try something, see how it works for you, incorporate it into your process if it works, don’t worry about it if it doesn’t, but maybe keep it in your arsenal for when the time comes when it might work for you.

You might be an edit-as-you-go writer who does one draft, but that means each part is revised and rewritten along the way. You might be a fast draft writer who dashes off a quick draft, then spends a lot of time afterward revising, rewriting, and editing. You might be a plotter who has a scene-by-scene outline written before you write the first word. You might be a pantser who just starts writing and sees where that takes you. You may be somewhere in the middle, having a broad outline and sense of where the story might go, but figuring out each scene as you get there. It’s all good, as long as you end up with a book.

I seem to fall in the middle for everything. I do a lot of planning and plotting and still end up figuring the story out as I go. I write a fast draft, but I usually have to stop in the middle and backtrack before moving forward to the end, and then I do a lot of rewriting.

I do feel like the more time I spend thinking about a book before I start writing it, the better it goes. It’s like I need to write the mental fan fiction before I can write the book. I imagine all kinds of scenes with the characters, most of which will never make it into the book, but that helps me get to know the characters and their world, and that helps me figure out the story. If I skip that step and just start writing, it’s more difficult.

And, of course, as soon as I figure out a process that works for me, something changes and I have to adjust all over again. It’s a constant evolution.

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