Tuesday, December 8

There's a Process?

Writing is hard. If you’re a writer, you already know this. It’s not news. Some days, the words fly from my fingertips and other days, I’m lucky if I’ve written even three sentences. I’d rather tell you that I write x number of hours each day and set word count goals. I want to tell you that the writing always, always comes first, that I pop out of bed at 4:30 each morning and get my 1000 to 1500 words in before the sun rises. 

I want to tell you that I’m a disciplined outliner, that I make timelines and character studies, and that I know from word one who all my characters are, where the story’s going, and how it will end. That is process to me and real writers—professional authors—have a process. Right? 

Well, I do none of those things. I write when I can write, squeezing words in between editing gigs or staying up late at night when the muse is kicking my creative ass. I take copious notes on scraps of paper, napkins, and on my cell phone memo app when ideas hit me or I hear a word that I like or characters start having a conversation in my head. But is that a process? Does that make me a writer? I don’t know. I hope so…

I confess my process—such as it is—is sluggish, but I’m simply not one of those authors who can crank out books. Here’s what happens when I do write. I produce a chapter or a scene and then the next time I sit down at the computer, I reread what I wrote previously. Sometimes it’s great and I just pick up where I left off. Other times I change it up—a lot—and suddenly it gets bigger than anything I’d planned. But lately, ideas have been swirling around in my head, characters have been talking to me about their stories, demanding I get busy and tell them already. So, I’m writing . . . and then I’m rewriting . . . and then I’m writing . . . and then . . . well, you get the picture. It’s my process, I guess.

Talk to me. Tell me your process. Is it working?


  1. Well, sigh, my "process" is a lot like yours, other than I write every day. Or at least, I sit at my desk and type. Whether it's anything remotely publishable is up in the air. I know it worked really well when I did the M-F thing and took weekends off, but that went by the wayside when I wanted to write on Saturdays and sew on Tuesdays. Well, okay...

    So, yeah, no real process. Liked your post, though!

    1. Thanks, Liz! Maybe how I do this is just how I'll be doing it and I shouldn't try to organize myself as a writer. ;-)

  2. I've learned to embrace my process, such as it is. And it isn't getting up at 4:30 to write x-number of words or x-hours...but it works for me. That's the key, I think. No matter how clunky a process might feel or how off from what experts say a process should be, it has to be what works for you. In my mind, I'd love to have a dedicated office and be able to sit down and churn out 5,000 words every day. In reality, I write in our LaZBoy more often than not and some days 5k churns out quickly and some days I struggle to hit 1,000...and some days I open my document and just stare at the page for a while.

    Great post, Nan...and keep doing what works for you!

  3. Thanks, Kristi...maybe what we do is our process and it doesn't have to be labeled correct or perfect or even a good process. We're all putting books out, so apparently, we're doing it, right? So glad you stopped by!

  4. Great post, Nan! I'd love to have more time each day to sit and write, but I would probably waste it checking Facebook and catching up on my TV shows :-) Enjoy whatever "process" you have... as long as you're writing and happy about it, then embrace it!

  5. I agree--whatever gets the words on the paper should be our process. Mine changes with the days of the week. And I wish I had the kind of schedule that I could dedicate so many hours of a day to writing, but I just squeeze it in when I can. Lots of notes scribbled here and there usually until my days off.