When it comes to the writing process, every writer is going to be different, but I also find that I write differently and follow unique paths depending on the book. For instance, some of my books have turned out quite well after National Novel Writing Month. Others have taken me significantly longer. Each book follows its own journey and that’s okay. As long as I still arrive at the final product, I’m pleased.
That being said, there are still a few rituals I follow for all of my stories, no matter the genre, length or series.
Let It Simmer
This ritual is largely in part due to the fact that I have too many stories to work on all at once. (And I’m not complaining about it!) But before I delve into writing a new book or a new series, I like to let it marinate, until I have a better understanding of the aesthetic, themes and characters. In fact, by the time I actually sit down to write the outline for the book, I already know a great deal about it.
Plotter, Outliner, Organizer
Oh yeah, when it comes to keeping my books on the right track, I’m a type-A tough-love kind of writer. I’ve written without outlines in the past and the book often ends up with something fundamental missing, which only makes it harder in the editing process. My outlines may change, but at least I have a clear plan of attack.
Sometimes I pin literally. With our recent move to Nashville, my bulletin board is now right above my desk, making it easy to pin or stick notes so I don’t forget them later. I’m also a huge fan of Pinterest for character inspiration and storyboarding, so I have several secret boards chock full of Montana ranches and royal estates, in case I ever need to return to the aesthetic for my story.
I Plan the Series
This goes along with the outlining but shows even more definitively what kind of writer I am. I love series. When I write series, I write better books. Outlining those books in advance allows me to introduce characters, explore personalities and generally prepare for the next books from the start.
In Which Excitement Abounds
It’s easy to forget why we do this when the edits are piling up, continuity issues abound and publishers haven’t responded. So I let myself return to the elements of the series that got me so excited in the first place. Do I love the characters? Is the dynamic unique and interesting? How cool are those outfits? These simple details put me back into the right headspace for finishing the book I want to read.
I’m sure there are a dozen more rituals and ways of approaching our stories, but these are just a few of the ones that work so well for me. Oh, and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.