My Writing "Process"

One thing writers love to talk about is process. What’s your process? Do you use charts or worksheets? Outlines? Do you wing it or do you have a plan? What kind of highlighters? Do you edit on screen or on paper? Do you collage or fill out character sheets or let it come to you during the book?

I can answer all of those questions about my process. I like to think I’m a fairly orderly, organized, and prepared writer. Except, once I hit a certain point in a book, the entire process goes out the window and the one word left to describe what I’m doing is desperation.

Will I ever be able to finish? Will this pile of nothing turn into something someone wants to read? Will my editor ask for the advance back? How many times can the word “just” possibly appear in a manuscript? Who typed this thing? Who thought this was a good idea for a book? How is this ever going to end? Am I really out of M&M’s again?


I thought it might be fun to share some pictures of what my “process” looked like when I was closing in on the deadline for Calling the Shots, my hockey dad book coming out in October.

Note for the spoiler-phobes among us: I obscured any actual spoilers. If you can read my notes, that means it’s either not a real spoiler or it didn’t make it into the final cut of the book.

1. This is a collection of some sticky notes that were either on the manuscript, on my desk, or stuck on some of the many versions of printed pages I generated during the course of my "final push." Some of them are quotes I want to get in, some are character insights, and some are pure dead ends.


2. This book was short on word count for a while.To keep myself encouraged, I started a running count of my word count progress. It took me *ahem* a few tries to get to the proper point. On the yellow sheet is a list of some of the words I overused. When I got bored with other revisions, I'd search and replace these little buggers. Wish I could stop typing them in the first place!


3. This one cracks me up. I was stuck on a section of the book. Couldn't figure out what should happen or what sequence would make for the most tension. I had this tiny note that I carried around with me for a few days while I considered options. At one point, I dropped the note on the floor at my day job. Luckily, I found it before anyone else did. It's not a note a normal person would have just lying around their cubicle, you know?


So there's a peek at my "process." Do any of you have systems that work for you that might look a bit odd to someone else? Ever made a list that might have raised eyebrows? Do you think I should change the tag line for this book to Pizza, Sex, and Haircuts?


Lacey Devlin said…
Lol I love the last note! Sooo glad you found it before someone else :) and can I just say how lovely your handwriting is? Really. I'd like to swap...
Ellen said…
Hee. A few people mentioned my handwriting over on eHarlequin when I posted this. I'm kind of appalled because it used to be such lovely Catholic school penmanship. At least it's still legible...mostly.

Lacey Devlin said…
I'd hate to see what they think of mine! I hereby give up writing. Everything will be done by computer and I'll just need lazer eye surgery when my retinas go ;)

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