My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Hey there! I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in a blog tour by friend and fellow YA writer, VB Bernard. We’ve been writing buddies, accountability partners, beta readers and all round writing supports for each other for about a year now. Please check out her author page on facebook: www.facebook.com/vbbernard and check out how she completed her blog tour entry last week.

So here we go with question:
1) What am I working on?

What aren’t I working on is the question. I’m working on revising two contemporary YA novels. One called Takes One to Know One about a girl and boy who are hiding secrets from each other, or at least think they are. The other is Punx Not Dead, about a girl who loses herself when she falls in love with a drummer in a high school punk band and attempts to find the new her in the midst of some heartbreaking news. I’m also drafting a contemporary women’s fiction piece called Debut, about a woman who gets the chance to live her dream life, doing her dream job and realizes that dreams and reality are pretty different. In the meantime she dates not so great guys and tries to break herself from repeating the same mistakes over and over.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love dialogue and I craft it with as much realism as I can. Some of work reads like a screenplay, because the banter flows so well. I also like to have characters from small towns in out-of-the-way places.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I was a classroom teacher for a long time and I loved watching my students discover new books. Teachers often get into the habit of suggesting old books, or books with outdated characters and that can turn some kids off from reading, so I first set out to write books my students would like and could relate. I also read a ton of contemporary YA, so I write these books for myself, too.

4) How does my writing process work?

I get an idea and the draft it linearly. I don’t write out-of-order or in nonsequential scenes. I write beginning, middle, end. Second drafts are plotted a little more than first, because by then I know where I want the story to go. They’re usually complete rewrites, though. Third drafts and beyond are reordering and reworking scenes to tighten up the multiple story lines and answer any sticky or lingering questions I still have.

I also work with a writing critique group and their feedback through the process is VERY helpful.

Here’s where I’m supposed to link to the next people on the blog tour, but I didn’t actually recruit anyone. So instead, I’ll bid you adieu.

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Showing Up

So many writers talk about the struggle to turn up to the page. Once we carve out some time, set up our space, follow our routines and finally sit down (or stand, if you have one of crazy treadmill desks!) the writing feels like no big deal. It’s the set-up and the process that turn us off some days. I’m finding the easiest way around that is to write daily. Nanowrimo got me back in that habit and it’s sort of stuck ever since. In fact, now, when my mind starts to wander or I’m less than busy, I write. At work, I sort of miss crafting my writing, so I sneak in a little break here and there to write to myself or to you all.

I think writing, as a habit, is an easy one to maintain because it is extremely and immediately fulfilling. You see the progress and process and words filling up the page. It’s not a habit like exercise that takes months to see results. One, 15 minute sit-down with writing will create loads of words, a possible scene, a character sketch, a poem.
I’ve been doing this daily writing on top of my 10 pages a day revision project. The revision takes around 15-20 minutes, as does the writing. So I’m happy to fill 30-40 minutes each day with writing. On days when I have more time, I spend more time on it. On days when I have less, I try to stick to my 30-40 minute commitment.

So, showing up to the page, thinking through my writing, creating routines, blogging more, revision- it’s been a productive 2013 so far, let’s hope it keeps up!

Revision, Revision, Let Down Your Golden Hair!

Four days into 2013 and I’ve upheld my goal to work on revising. My writing priorities have shifted from story-telling to story-fixing and it’s been an interesting process. So far, it’s not as painful I thought it would be. I thought making changes would be a lot more difficult for me. I’m not particularly stubborn or set in my ways and I usually don’t have trouble admitting I’m wrong, but there’s something about going back through your work and tearing it apart that seems like it could be a little disheartening and depressing. But it’s actually been a really positive experience so far.

The piece I’m revising was written in a month, during Nanowrimo. It’s a very rough draft, but I put a lot of work, thought, and frustrated energy into writing it. So as much as I want to say it’s good the way it is, I know that’s not true- characters disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again, the time line is wonky and subplots are started and then dropped. I let the muse take me the story where she wanted it to go and forgot my story outline basically as soon as I started writing the piece in order write what the cosmos dictated.  The cosmos, though, it seems, is not the most coherent story-teller. In fact, don’t tell anyone, but *whisper* I think the muse has ADD.

My revision process so far is not to rewrite anything just yet. Right now, I’m just rereading and commenting. Now that I know how the story begins, grows, and ends, I’m rereading to get an idea of what needs to change.  I’m working in a Word version of the manuscript, compiled from Scrivener. I’m doing 10 pages a day, which will take me forever, but it’s a manageable goal for now. I read the piece and make edits/line changes and additions if it’s just word or sentence or two.  If it’s a big idea, like a line of thought that needs to carry throughout the piece or a whole new scene I add a comment in the margin. It’s been an easy way to see quickly where I’ve dropped the ball. I have many comments that begin with “Again…” because I’ve already addressed the needed scene or storyline in several previous comments.

My plan is to get through this whole process before I meet with my critique group so that I have some clear revision ideas and questions about where to go from there.  I already have a lot of future ideas in mind, like the ending happens too quickly because I was on a deadline to finish and I know I need to develop the Mom and her boyfriend’s relationship throughout the story. But, I haven’t gotten there yet, so I’m trying to just focus on the ten pages that need work each day. I’ll keep you posted about my process and where I go next with it!