The Process Monkey Asks: What Is Your Writing Process?
Let me say this up front: if you’re a writer of any age or experience level, you need to be looking at your writing process. Always. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. You gaze into it to see if there’s anything you do to change it. Anything you can do to understand it better. You’re looking for bolts to tighten, widgets to wax, hedgehogs to tickle. Anything to fully weaponize your writing process.
You don’t do this to become some kind of CRASS FICTION FACTORY. This isn’t (necessarily) about becoming faster. It’s about getting better. Why wouldn’t you want to tell better stories? Why wouldn’t you want to refine your process and make the thing that you do easier, more fun, and more awesome? WHY DON’T YOU LIKE AWESOME THINGS.
My process is this, roughly:
At 6AM, I get up. Like a vampire rising from death into monstrous revivification.
I make myself some coffee. Pourover, because there’s something meditative about it. And the coffee is fucking amazing — I don’t just drink coffee for the kick. I drink it because it’s delicious.
I also drink it black as a mirror at night.
I put the coffee in a carafe — this one, actually — to keep it warm all day.
I get quick shit out of the way — any outstanding ASAP emails or tweets or silly stuff like that. Sam Sykes may be tweeting at me from the end of his day and the start of mine.
And then by 7AM, I get my ass to work.
I write in Microsoft Word. I’ve tried Scrivener, because people love it. It’s not my thing (though I am pleased if it is yours). Learning curve is too steep, it’s ugly as bad wallpaper, and I’m comfortable with a draft in Word going all the way through to the Track Changes stages of editing.
One small ritual ritual I have is, I have to make sure the font is right on the story.
Just a thing I gotta do. Probably the only “quirky” ritual component.
(That and the “bathing in goat’s blood” at 11:11AM every day.)
Eventually my son will be awake, and when he is, I am summoned by text message and then I head inside to do the whole breakfast thing, where he eats whatever it is that he wants to eat — pancakes or eggs or maybe he just wants to gnaw on the table like a nibbly bunny.
Then I walk with the dog every day and some days, run.
Then it’s back to the keyboard.
I write until I’m finished for the day, which is — nngh? Bare minimum, 2000 words in the day, but ideally I go above 3000. Like, for me, 2k is a barely passing grade. A D+ or something.
I write roughly 1000 words an hour. The first 1000 words is a bit sluggish, but the second 1000 words is where I usually move at a brisker, more limber pace.
I generally write for an hour, then take 15 minutes off to, y’know, fuck off in and around the Internet. I get on Twitter and TWEET THINGS. I get on Facebook and BOOK FACES. The usual.
I’m done writing new content by early afternoon, usually.
Then it’s onto lunch and whatever administrative or extraneous stuff needs a-doing. Outlines, emails, spreadsheets, finances, remembering where I put my pants.
I tend to do blog posts on weekends, though sometimes throughout the week too if there’s something that chafes my pee-hole enough that I have no choice but to write about it ASAFP.
Again, everything gets written right into MS Word.
And everything gets edited there, too.
First drafts get a look ideally from my agent, and then an another edit/polish (again: perfect world) before it gets catapulted into my editor’s eyeballs.
I track my day’s writing with a spreadsheet. I know if I’m over or under my daily goals. And I also know where I’m at according to my overall writing plan.
I tend to write a new novel ever one to four months. That’s first draft. Edits take longer.
And I think that’s it. That’s the process.
But now, I turn the question around to you. What is your process? How do you do it? How much time per day? Do you write every day? Whatever you feel like telling us about your writing process, I’m all ears. Like I said, I’m always a process monkey and it’s interesting to hear how everyone does it — no writer has the same writing process as the next. Some are similar; others are wildly different. Hell, just the quest to discover one’s writing process (similar to the quest to discover one’s voice) can be epic. Where are you at in this quest?