My Writing Process

Recently, I’ve been actively writing and plotting my novel, simultaneously.

That probably makes no sense. I’ve sort of started the writing process in media res.

See, my current novel started out as a NaNoWriMo novel. I was off to a really great start, but then I got a really bad case of bronchitis and didn’t feel like doing anything but sleeping for like, a month. So that died.

But here I am, with a good chunk of the beginning of a draft, no plotting, no prewriting, and only a vague idea of what was going to happen next. I’ve never been much for the writing process. Even as a university English major, most of my papers are written with absolutely no outlining and turned in as first drafts. (For the record, I realize that this is a terrible way to write a paper, and I realize that this is probably why my grades aren’t as good as they could be, but I do okay for myself.)

When I decided to seriously pursue this novel, I knew that I had to change something about my process, because I’ve tried to written a lot of novels, so I have a lot of computer files with 15,000 words written and nothing else. I decided to create a really detailed outline, which I’m still working on. (Currently outlining chapter 20.) But you know, I’m not that good at following one thing at a time, so when I get bored of outlining, I go back and work on actually writing the current draft.

I also decided to set myself deadlines, because I don’t want to be working on the first draft for the next ten years. I want to be done with the draft until summer, partly because it seems like a good time to take a break, but also because I have a tendency to go live at a summer camp until August, and I know that I won’t write there. So far, I should be finished with chapter 19, for example, by March 27th. I’d like to be done by May, just because I think it would be cool to say that I wrote my book over the course of my senior year in college.

Anyway. I feel like I have a way more solid grasp of where my novel is going and what I need to do to get there. Of course, this is just in reference to my first draft. I’m kind of terrified of the editing/rewriting process, because let’s be honest. I don’t ever edit my own writing. I just turn in my first draft and wipe my hands of the matter. I’m not even going to edit this here blog post.

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Writing my Novel (successfully, this time?)

I’ve been a Reader for my entire life. Back when I had bunk beds, I invented a pulley system to get books up to my top bunk. I was the kid in school who was always reading instead of paying attention in class. My mom had to come fight the school to get me permission in elementary school to check out upper-level books from the library. Last night, I stayed up far too late reading an entire book in one sitting. (Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. No spoilers, but I’m still blown away by the ending.)

As long as I’ve been a reader, I’ve also been a writer. I used to write dozens of stories a week about superhero girls, kite flying, family vacations, mystery, romance, you name it. I once entered a children’s writing competition sponsored by Lavar Burton, the Reading Rainbow guy. My story was called SuperMe. It was about my superhero alter ego, who could fly, had super speed, and could talk to animals. Her main enemy was Mojo-jojo, the bad guy from the Powerpuff girls. I told my mom about the story after I sent it, and she told me point-blank that it couldn’t win because taking Mojo-jojo was a copyright violation.

Fast forward. It’s 2015 and I’ve decided to finally start the novel I’ve been sitting on for years. I didn’t have any of the plot worked out, just that there would be a royal family, feminist discourse, and lookalikes. It was like on Google Maps, when you’re trying to figure out how to get to your friend’s house. It starts out zoomed out to show all of the United States, which is wildly unhelpful. That’s where I was. I could see all of the metaphorical story United States. To see the actual street names, you have to zoom way in, which is where I am now.

I guess I’ll talk about a few goals for my novel. I want it to be somewhere in the 50-60,000 word range. I plan on writing somewhere around 80,000, though, so I have plenty to work with during edits. It’s going to be marketed toward young adult readers. I definitely want to publish with a major press (I don’t want anything to do with self-publishing), so I want to get an agent. I’m hoping that I can get the first draft done by June, preferably before that, and then spend the rest of 2016 editing. Once I finish the chapter outlines, I’m going to set myself deadlines like “chapter 12 done by this date” and “polished draft of chapter 1 revised for this date”, similar to how it would be if I were already working with an agent.

I’ve got all these dreams of book advances, signings, end caps in Barnes and Noble, people obsessively following my every move on social media and asking every day when I’m releasing another book. But for now, I’m going to finish this blog post, outline a bit, write a bit, and then maybe do some yoga.