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What Is My Writing Process? (BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE)

This month’s Beautiful People Meme (hosted by PaperFury and Sky @ Further Up and Further) is all about the Writer’s Process. If you’re a writer looking for a glorious link-up to participate in, head on over to the blog and snag the questions! And if you’re curious about the ins and outs of my writing process, keep reading!

1. How do you decide which project to work on?

A highly scientific process of data collection and cost/benefit determination, of course.

In the past, I’ve basically made decisions on what to write based on total whims; I’d work on whatever project I was feeling particularly jazzed about, smash away at it until I was no longer so particularly jazzed, and then drop it for something else shiny that caught my eye. Now (as of literally this calendar year), I’ve committed to to mapping out actual writing plans and deadlines for my projects. I’ve got a whole list of what I what to work on throughout the next year, when I’d like to have each project done by, and the sequence I want to work in.

For example:

Summer 2017: By the end of September (originally July, but who am I kidding), I want to finish my edits on the first book in my fantasy series.

Fall 2017: UCLA breaks their school year into 10 week quarters instead of semesters, so I’d like to try and complete a draft of a stand-alone fantasy novel during the fall quarter. I’ve got my plot all outlined and am pretty sure on my chapters (except Chapter 7. I have no idea what happens in Chapter 7. The outline literally says, get them to Chapter 8.) This’ll fall on NaNoWriMo as well, which will really help me get the project done.

Winter 2018: Then, I’d like to stamp out a draft of my silly superhero story in the Winter quarter. I’ll have Christmas Break to really chomp into it.

Spring 2018: And, for the spring, I want to get a first draft of this really cool, creepy sci-fi horror/thriller idea I’ve got knocking around in my head. I’ll have Spring Break and then the summer to finish that up as well.

Then, hopefully, the 2018-2019 school year can be spent revising the projects and getting one up to snuff so I can query it. I want some stand-alone pieces in my arsenal; I love, love, LOVE my fantasy series, but it’s way easier to query a stand-alone when you’re unpublished!

2. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

The fastest I’ve ever written a first draft was about 130,000 words in two months. Revisions take me way longer. Like, the first book in my series that I’m revising right now has taken a bajillion years — because it was originally two books that I drafted, revised, revised, and revised again, until they were finished and whole and perfect … and then decided that they needed to be one book, not two. So, they had to be ripped apart at the seams and sewn back together in a totally different configuration. It’s been hell great!!

That’s an extreme, though. I’d say, generally, it takes me two to three months to write a first draft, then about six months to a year to revise that first draft into something that won’t actually burn out your irises.

3. Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

  1. Read for 30-60 minutes beforehand, to get the creative juices flowing.
  2. Look over the plot outline and decide exactly what I’m working on that day.
  3. Breakdown the steps I need to take to achieve the scene or chapter, because if I have a list that I can cross items off of, I am so much more productive.
  4. Write by hand first. Helps me work through my thoughts, and then I can edit my writing as I type it up later, so it’s already cleaned up.
  5. I also do a thing where I change the page background color on Word to either green or black, then open the document in Focus mode so it fills the whole screen. It’s easier on the eyes, obliterates distractions, and avoids the stress of staring at a blank white page.
  6. Something I need to do more often: put my phone on Do Not Disturb — or better yet, leave it in another room. The problem is, I like to set timers on my phone for word sprints … but I usually and inexplicably and through no fault of my own end up on Twitter.

4. What time of day do you write best?

I write outside best, either from 7-9pm, right as dusk is settling into twilight and the light is all dimming and cozy, or dead of night. 2-6am. I’m wrecked for the following day (because apparently no matter when I fall asleep, my body is awake by 10am. Even if I went to bed two hours before.) but that middle of the night stillness and silence — and lowered inhibitions from total sleep deprivation — is when I think the clearest and write the best.

5. Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I have no idea. I love Truman Capote and Shirley Jackson, and there were times sentences in Breakfast at Tiffanies or In Cold Blood reminded me of something I would’ve written myself — or maybe just something I would love to have written myself? A literary agent once said my style was like an early Terry Pratchett, but I don’t know if that’s who I want to emulate — I like to incorporate humor in my fantasy stories, but I don’t want them to be all humor, you know what I mean? I want to still take the plot seriously and have dark things happen, so I don’t want to employ a too-humorous tone that’s going to clash with the actual story.

6. Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I don’t feel settled unless I’ve written something down. It’s how I sort out my thoughts. And if I wasn’t writing, I’d still be vividly daydreaming, so this is a reliable outlet for the stories constantly roiling and rioting for attention inside my own head. As soon as I could talk, I was carrying dolls around narrating their adventures, and I have reams of terrible drawings I made that I had my mom write captions for, before I could pick up a pen for myself. So, I guess the cop-out answer is that I’ve kind of always been writing?

7. What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

Honestly, those college application essays. Writing fictional characters, narrative arcs, a structured plot — even if I do it badly, I at least have a grasp on how to do it, and I have fun doing it. But taking a vague essay prompt and writing about myself for 500 words was nothing short of torture. I know my essays were terrible. I know I got rejected from certain schools because my essays were terrible. I can’t write about myself! I can’t even write bios for myself on websites. My Twitter profile was just emojis for the longest time because I’m Ron Swanson and I don’t want people to celebrate having personal information about me! And they always want sob stories for admissions essays, you know? Either sob stories or self-aggrandizement, and I just can’t stomach it. Thankfully, I shouldn’t have to write another admissions essay for a very, very long time.

8. Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

UGH. YES. I have a total, perfect outline for an LGBT romance story about two soldiers whose plane crashes in the middle of hostile enemy territory, and they come to rely on and care for each other as they battle the elements and enemy combatants to survive. There is a plot structure, there are twists, there is a midpoint mirror moment, there is character development, I can see every scene perfectly in my head — but I have absolutely. no. idea. how. to. write. it.

I don’t even know what war to put it in. Is it disrespectful to make up a war? I’d need to do so much research, and it would probably have to be some kind of historical fiction, which I know nothing about. I’ve seriously and honestly considered how I might be able to rework the plot to include DRAGONS, because if I made it a fantasy, I could make up the intricacies of the army and war without treading on any actual, smashable toes.

So, I don’t know know if I’ll ever actually tackle that beast. But UGH, I can see it so vividly in my head. * weeps *

9. What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

LISTEN, BUDDY, 2017 ISN’T OVER YET, SO I’M NOT TECHNICALLY A FAILURE UNTIL 11:59 PM ON DECEMBER THE 31ST, CAPISCE?

I wanted to finish my edits on Book 1 of my fantasy series, and write three standalones. I have … not … done those things. But, if I stick to the goals and deadlines I’ve made for myself, by the end of 2017 I should have (will have? will have hopefully have?) finished the Book 1 edits and one standalone. So, that’s my goal for the rest of the year. January!Christina might have made some other goals, back when Barack Obama was still president and there was hope in the world, but ya know what, kids? We’re working with what we’re working with, now.

10. Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Either

or

and never anything in between.

~

What is your writing process? Do you have any projects you don’t feel ready to write about, or do you tend to jump right in and figure out the kinks later? Leave a comment below, let’s chat! And if you’d like to participate in the link-up, click the image below and sign up!

See you next Monday, and Happy Writing!!!

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7 Comments

  • Reply Cait @ Paper Fury

    Ahhh I loved reading this! Your answers are so fun and awesome! And omg I just admire you so so much right now for how your writing schedule is so organised?!? Like I don’t even know what I’m going to write a few months in advance. I’m hopeless.😂 (And I totally have stories I don’t know how to begin too because of research. ACK the writers life is hard.)

    I love the gifs too.😂

    Thanks for linking up with us!

    July 13, 2017 at 6:47 am
    • Reply happywriter

      THANKS! And I mean, yeah, I have some well organized *plans* for my writing schedule, BUT WE’LL SEE IF I STICK TO THEM. *cries and hurls myself into the sun*

      Thanks for the link-up, I loved the questions!!

      July 31, 2017 at 10:45 pm
  • Reply Wendleberry

    Giving myself a deadline definitely motivates me to finish. I’d never thought of changing the colour of the word document… i switch up the font when i feel myself getting to complacent, but i’m going to try the colour now, too!

    July 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm
    • Reply happywriter

      I switch the font up too! It’s strange how things like that will motivate you or change your mindset a little bit, isn’t it? Also helps to catch typos! As for the background color, a black background with green text, or a light green background with black text is supposed to be the easiest on your eyes, especially when writing at night!

      Thanks for commenting!!

      July 31, 2017 at 10:49 pm
  • Reply Jacqueline @bluejaybooks

    Wow, your pre-writing rituals are way more thought out than anything I do before writing!

    So many people seem to have written that something they wrote for school was harder than any novels. I didn’t even consider things I’d written for school when writing my post. I’m an English major, so I really should have. Still think I’d have to say some of my lengthier novel length works were more difficult though.

    July 17, 2017 at 9:25 am
    • Reply happywriter

      I definitely don’t do ALL of those things every time I sit down to write, but any number of them help me get into the right mindset. 🙂

      I’m an English major, too! It was the application essays that made me self-conscious, lol!

      July 31, 2017 at 10:53 pm
      • Reply Jacqueline @bluejaybooks

        Okay, you were making me feel a little disorganized. 🙂

        I can see how those could make you self-conscious. Always nerve wracking to do something that could have a huge impact on the future.

        August 1, 2017 at 8:06 am

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