Are you a panster or a planner?
Do you outline or is your mantra like Sheldon Cooper’s response to Penny on The Big Bang Theory: “Wherever the music takes me, kitten.”
In short, what is your process?
It took me a long time to answer this question because honestly I didn’t quite know. My early writing attempts were just that: attempts. I’d have this great mind blowing idea and sit down with pen and paper and start to write it out and then my enthusiasm and/or the story would fizzle. I’d have lots of starts but no finishes.
Then I started to finally get really serious about this writing thing and I decided I needed to buckle down and write the way I was taught in English class: rough draft, first and/or second drafts, final copy.
I did get through a ‘draft’. I thought it was brilliant. It just needed fixed. Being an introvert, I didn’t have anyone look at it thinking I could do this all on my own. After a complete re-write I ended up with a finished product that was nothing like the draft. And it wasn’t very good either. I didn’t think so at the time but a recent look at it to see if I could salvage it caused me to physically cringe and file it in the deepest, darkest corner of my hard drive. I am to this day so very thankful for the editor who turned it down.
So I tried again. I took my time, sometimes leaving it for a few days or weeks but always picking it back up. Many moons later, I had my first completed book, Yankee Heart, and Heartsong Presents wanted to publish it. When they asked if I had ideas for two more, of course I said ‘yes’. How I managed to churn out two more I am not quite sure. But panic, caffeine and looming deadlines had a lot to do with it.
Fast forward to January of this year. I have three Heartsongs under my belt and I’ve struggled for a year to write a longer book. I have tried every method known to man to write my book faster, better and in a way that wasn’t ‘weird’. I always thought my way was haphazard, a little strange and it seemed to take too long to get a book out. I wanted to be able to write a book in a year like a lot of my favorite authors.
I tried software, I tried the ‘write your book in a month’ and ‘write your book in three months’ books, I read blog posts on how different writers write, trying out all the methods they used to plot or characterize with the hope I could somehow find an ‘acceptable’ process.
So there I sat with another start but no finish. I decided to go back and try my hand at another Heartsong trio. They were shorter and I had some loose idea of how I wrote them. I had an idea that I liked that could tie-in with my original three and I decided to run with it. And this time instead of using everyone else’s processes, I was going to come up with one of my own, one that worked and if it was ‘weird’ so be it.
And I did.
Not only did I find my process but what I thought was going to be the first in a Heartsong trio turned into a 90,000 plus book that I researched and wrote in a year. At this point it’s getting polished (yes, I got feedback this time from some truly marvelous people) and it will be getting sent off to an agent and a publisher for consideration.
So what did I come up with?
I’m not going to tell you.
I’m not trying to be mean and it’s not some deep dark secret because I’m embarrassed or something. It’s actually not that weird. The point is it’s distinctly mine.
You see, God created each one of us to be unique. Different. One of a kind. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14a ESV. Since that is so why should you think what works for one writer will work for you? How God made you will, to a degree, dictate what your process is. Are you an introvert, an extrovert, an ambivert? How do you best take in information? Are you tactile, auditory, visual? And for some of us, myself included, special considerations like ADD have to taken into account.
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I will say what I came up with seems to be somewhere between the two. For example, my brain will not allow me to write in chapters. I write my books in one large chunk with spaces for POV and scene changes and I break them into chapters only when I’m done. Yet, I do have to plan out where I want the story to go, however loosely, or I get hopelessly stuck.
So what about you? Have you found your process or are you still looking for it?
Jennifer has been writing down stories since she got an A++ on her ninth grade creative writing assignment. She resides in Central Ohio with her husband, two children and one terribly fussy cat. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and a graduate of The Ohio State University, she makes room to write in between being a busy wife and mom.
Visit Ohio in the latter half of the 1800s, when rebuilding the country also involves rebuilding lives stripped of hope. Katherine has lost her home, Adele has lost her husband, and Anne has lost her dreams. Can each have their joy restored in romances with men who are also deeply wounded by their own pasts? Find out in this inspiring three-book collection by author Jennifer A. Davids.
Seekerville is giving away one ecopy of Buckeye Dreams to one commenter today. Let us know you want your name in the draw! Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!