I see a very common topic pop up all over writing blogs or blogs written by authors. Each person’s “Writing process”. It can be as in-depth or as vague as they want, and they always promote these blogs in particular. The processes vary so much from one writer to the next. I don’t think that there is any one true way to write or one process that’s better than the next. Others will probably argue with me, but I think everyone has their own style and their own unique thought process that might help inspire others to write more or to look at their own unique writing process. And almost everyone I follow, admire read etc. has posted a blog like this at one point.
Okay, not everyone. Some people. And if not a blog, at least an idea or a theory on Twitter or Facebook. Advice, even.
I have a few thoughts of my own and a very specific process that I go through, and I am not here to say one process is better than the next, but I thought that I would share my process with you here today.
First in my writing process is a very simple step. I call it “Get an Idea.” Usually these Ideas come at 3 a.m. or when I am trying to sleep. I am a mild insomniac (as I’m writing this I have been awake for 39 hours solid.) 3 a.m. is a very familiar time for me. But I digress. You have to get an Idea. Yes, Idea must be capitalized because that is the important part.
The next step is also really simple. Start by writing down your Idea. I have a notebook or sticky notes by my bed at all times because those Ideas show up at random times and I must immediately write them down. Then, when I have slept (or had a lot of caffeine) I can start building upon the Idea.
Which of course, is step three. Build your Idea. It’s really simple! Look at the Idea. Let’s use an example… “a monkey eats a banana that gives him magical powers.” It’s a pretty simple Idea. Once that is written down, and you have slept, had caffeine and are able to focus entirely on your Idea, you can start building on it. Ask yourself the important questions. “Who is this monkey?” “Why does he need powers?” “Where did the banana come from?” “What does he use his powers for?” etc. By asking these important questions, you should be able to move onto step four.
Build a timeline. Incorporate all your Ideas and answers to your questions. Let’s assume the badguy is a plumber and the monkey is in love with a princess. But the plumber is in love with the princess too. The time line looks like this: Monkey sees princess- monkey falls in love -princess is in love with plumber – monkey eats bananas to drown his sorrow – gets powers – kidnaps princess – plumber comes to save his girl – big fight – the plumber wins -the end. You need to flesh out each portion, but once those steps are established, you can see your story taking shape.
Step five is to actually write the story. Fill in the holes, build the world, describe things. That’s the fun part. Just do it. I’ll wait.
Step six is editing. I usually give myself a few weeks off after finishing a novel before I begin editing. I don’t agree with the “set your story aside for up to three months” method of editing. When I have an idea I want it out and perfected as soon as possible. Editing is the HARDEST part for me. I hate it. I hate the whole process. I am a perfectionist so everything SHOULD be perfect on the first go. But when I get into it, I can make those changes to make it perfect. I edit everything at once, make it perfect and THEN leave it. You can do this step however you like, but for me, getting the editing done once the story is told is the best way to get on with it.
From here, the process gets messy because so many people will tell you to do different things. Beta readers, critique groups, agents, whatever. You do what feels right to you. I am partial of having an outside opinion, a friend or my partner or even my sister, read the story in it’s entirety and take notes and tell me what was good (or bad) and then I can consider and revise as needed.
I don’t think that the creative process should be much harder than it already is. You put your heart and soul into your world. You give the characters life already, why make it more difficult than it needs to be? This is how I work. I suppose you’ll have something different in the process, and who the hell am I to tell you how to write YOUR story? So go on, write. Because, I know that if you’re anything like me, you’ll NEED to.
Kai Kiriyama is an insomniac. This was written during 40 hours of awake time. She may be clinically insane now, but you’ll still love her.
As always, you can find her on Twitter at @thekiriyamaheir and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find her on Facebook at: facebook.com/AuthorKaiKiriyama.