My Writing Process: From Idea to First Draft

Each author’s writing process is a bit different. Some wake up super early to write before their day job. Others write on their lunch break at their day job. Some stay up late. And some don’t even have day jobs and get to write whenever inspiration hits. Living the dream, right?

Newbie authors on KBoards often ask the more experienced authors how they segment their busy days to include writing. Everyone has different levels of responsibilities and we all handle the stress from them in our own way.

For me (at least in late-2014), my writing often gets pushed to the weekends since I have two jobs that eats up my weeknights. (When I’m editing, I’m able to squeeze in some time during the week.) I often try to get in 2,000 words a day (I have Fridays off which is a big help), which adds up to about 6,000 words a week, or 24,000 words a month. Typically my books run anywhere from 70,000-80,000 words (again, as of late-2014). That means it takes me about three months to finish the first draft of a novel. Of course, results vary depending on other circumstances. Some days I feel like writing more, others I only have time to spit out 1,000 words. But every little bit counts!

If I didn’t have a day job, this process would be sped up much faster. Say I wrote about 2,000 words a day for 5 days a week (excluding weekends, which some authors do and some don’t) that’s 10,000 words a week and 40,000 words a month. So a 70,000-80,000 first draft would be finished in less than two months. Of course, that’s excluding editing, but writing 2,000 words only takes me about 2-3 hours. That means that I still have the rest of the day to edit, format, market, whatever I need to do in order to keep multiple projects moving. Of course, this is still hypothetical land. Let’s snap back to reality where I have two jobs and need to carve out my down-time for writing.

So what is my actual process from idea to published? Well, as ideas ruminate in my mind, I jot them down. Anything is fair game as far as inspiration. Once I think I have the storyline mostly set in my mind (make sure it’s a story and not just a situation…) I write it down. Whether they’re character notes or chapter-by-chapter guidelines, it gets on paper. Long hand. Whatever is the most defining piece of inspiration for me. For The Blood Moon it was the characters. For The Full Moon it was the chapter guidelines (also because I had already defined the characters). It varies.

Once I have these down, I think about where the story should start. I used to rely heavy on prologues and back story, but I’ve since learned that the best way to grab a reader’s attention is to jump right into action and make sure it’s compelling enough that the reader wants to keep going. The beginning of a story is usually changed in the editing process (for The Blood Moon I added a whole new first chapter) but its where you develop your voice for the manuscript. Again, if you’re writing a sequel, your voice is already set.

The first draft is the hardest part for me. Even if I have chapter guidelines, I like to give myself enough room to be creative or change things as the opportunities arise. But the chapter guidelines remind me that in the end I have to get from Point A to Point B. It’s not always easy to do when you’ve written yourself into a corner. Or maybe something happens that changes the events that happen in the next chapter. Maybe the events in Chapter 6 push the events to what you thought were going to be in Chapter 7 to Chapter 8? The new Chapter 7 has to deal with the consequences of Chapter 6. For The Full Moon especially, I’ve added so many chapters that the main plot points are stretched out. This flexibility allows for a natural story cycle.

I hope this post helped give you an insight into my writing process! I’d love to hear about your writing process! If you’d like to hear about my editing process, check out my post about that here.

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