Friday, 9 September 2011

How Do You Write?

I've been wondering about this for a while now, but as you have noticed, I haven't been big on blogging recently. The main reason is my hours have been changed at work, so I'm working longer days, but on the flip side, I do get extra days off, so it's all swings and roundabouts. The other reason I haven't been here a lot, is that any spare time I do get, I'm spending on my Work In Progress (WIP).

I'm on the fourth draft now and it's really starting to take the shape of what I imagined it to be. I've added the pressure, by creating a self imposed deadline for finishing it. That deadline being the end of this month. Now you can see why I'm taking every opportunity I can to sit and work on it. It's no chore though, seeing it take shape is exciting and I can't get enough time with it.

As it's my first novel I've had to feel my way around the creative process and I've come up with a way of working that appears to be working for me. (Ask me if I still think that when I send my baby out!) It works, as in, it keeps my flow and focuses me.

I thought I'd share how I've worked this book. It's in drafted stages.

Draft one - Free write.

Draft two - Plotholes.

Draft three - Timeline.

Draft four - Character building and fact checking.

Draft five - Edit.

Each draft has come with it's own issues and frustrations, but setting myself a definite task of what I was working on during each current draft helped focus me on that and helped me complete what I set out to do. EG - Repair that massive gaping hole in the plot two thirds of the way in.

I'm on draft four. I'm rounding my characters and checking my facts and filling in the holes I left when I didn't know definitive facts. I'm so close, I can taste it!

How do you work when writing? Are you structured or do you just keep going through it until you feel it's right?


  1. Thank you for posting this. I was always told to just "write then rewrite."

  2. Rebecca, this subject is so fascinating isn't it? Everyone seems to have a slightly different approach, and I don't think there are any rights or wrongs. I do the same as you initially and free write, but I character build straight away. I know I am more character driven than plot driven, so am trying to adjust this slightly and give plot as much weight. I think as long as we are open to different approaches and techniques then our writing will benefit.

  3. For me draft one is bare bones, draft two is plot, draft three is flesh, draft four is skin (ie. tying everything together - I'm forever going back to the first chapters to add stuff that'll make sense of the last chapters).

    Of course, for me, drafts 1, 2, 3 and 4 can easily be 1, 7, 12, 23, 47...

  4. For me, draft one is definitely 'keep going to the end and don't look back'. The first story I tried to edit was such a mess that I abandoned it. I have higher hopes for this one though, I'll have to let you know what my process is when I get one :-)

  5. you sound very organized and well adjusted to writing!
    keep up the good work =)

  6. I just keep going through it until it feels right. I know in a general sense what I need to do. But I do skip around a lot and sometimes do things in a helter skelter manner. Its what works for me.

  7. I'm on my first draft now, and it's helpful to see your stages and think about how I will work my way through finishing this novel. Thanks for sharing!

    I also wanted to let you know I gave you an award on my blog today:

  8. Rebecca,

    Interesting. Perhaps I see why i flap with my own editing. You see, I also try to get the first draft down without worrying too much about everything else. Then the second draft i do grammar / typos and plotholes characters. Yes, all at the same time...
    *scratches head*
    Maybe I should try it your way! Great post.

  9. Isn't it strange how we all have different methods. I need my characters fully fleshed out before I write a single word. I suppose that's because my stories are character driven rather than plot.

    Keeping track of the timeline is the thing I struggle with most. Because I can't be bothered with it for the first couple of drafts, I end up not knowing where I am.:)

    Good luck with meeting your deadline!

  10. I should be more structured. I tend to write without thinking and then I start to think. The only problem is I often find I have to abandon everything as the plot is 'too thin'. I should do a bit more planning in the early stages.

    I understand your time restraint problem. It's not easy keeping blog, writing and work all going.

  11. How funny. I just posted the above comment and found you'd done the same on my blog. Synchronicity, right?!

  12. Rebecca, you made my day when you tweeted how you approach each draft. It was a lightbulb moment for me as I have been tying myself in knots trying to do too much in the first draft and not moving forward with it as fast as I would have hoped.
    Thanks for sharing, I'll be giving your way a go soon hopefully.

  13. I think I'm less organized that you Rebecca. I just sit down and make myself write the story the whole way through. Then I go back and fix...well, anything that might be wrong. Again. And again. Et cetera...

  14. Love your post! I initially just write to write and then go through drafts similar to your set-up. I tend to stay a little longer on the character building. I take so many notes after the first draft, like doing a character interview, just to get the character where I want them. Then I go from there. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I've just begun work on my 1st novel, so your process gives me a good road-map. I've only ever published short stories before, so am looking forward to the 'novel' experience. Thanks for sharing your process.

  16. I don't know if what I do could be called a true process. I write a story, force it on others to read, and based on their feedback make edits. Repeat as many times as necessary.

    But I do go back and fix things a bunch during that first, free write stage. So I guess it's not that much of a 'free write' stage.

  17. Great post.... I struggle doing a first draft without my internal editor taking over... something I'm working on:)

  18. Sounds like you're making good progress.

    I'm a greedy, short-on-time writer, so I try to get as much in on the first go round as I can. With that in min, I start each chapter with week/date/and time - if necessary.

    I guess this is probably why I edit each chapter a few times before I go to the next. Not something I'd recommend for sane writers. I say do what works for you and it's good that you're finding out as you go what works best for your writing.

  19. Your draft goals are very organized and structured. Personally, I'm a bit more loose, but in the first draft I free write. Draft two I focus directly on the characters, making sure they match what I originally jotted down on a separate sheet to define them. Also, I try to gauge the important ones for emotions; I always worry about making sure the right ones connect with the audience.

    Draft three is where I focus on the plot structure and plot holes I suppose. That area usually comes later as I'm very character focused.

  20. It's so exciting to see a book getting to the point you want it to be!

    I think I'm a little of both. Structured, but I keep going until it feels right.

  21. Great blog post. I always free write to start with and then go back and check through until I feel happy with it and then ask my beta readers if they can bear to read anything else for me. :o)

  22. Well done for getting so far - and thanks for sharing your strategy. I aim to have at least draft one of my new novel finished by next summer - I have to take it slow to fit in with job and life. Really pleased for you that you're so close! :-)

  23. Sounds like you've got your writing priorities staight. I you've got a good writing system going.
    I try to just do everything as it comes to me and fix things as I go along.

    Tossing It Out

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