Have you ever been to a meeting, conference, or workshop and heard a variation of this question: “Can you tell me what your writing process is?”
The typical answer follows along this line: “Everyone’s process is difference, but here’s what I do . . . “
While it’s true that every author writes to the beat of their own drum, if you listen to enough, “What’s your writing process?” answers, you might be able to discern a basis pattern. Interestingly, when you search online, you’ll not only find a basic pattern has evolved for fiction writing, but that the same pattern can also be applied to most other types of writing formats. Stands to reason that learning this basic pattern might prove useful.
Writing Process – Basic Pattern
Shall I define each steps in the process? I think not. Pretty self-explanatory. So why am I bothering to mention the process at all? And here’s where we get to the meat of this article. I’ve been laboring over the question of moving forward with my WIP OR revising what I have. (Sticking to the process or diverging from it?)
And damnit, I was not able to turn up one pertinent article that recommended an ideal amount of time you should devote to each step. Nothing that offered guidance on whether you should move through the entire process or whether it was advisable to move through the process for one part of your story and then repeat as you move forward with the next part of your story. I suppose this is where the “personalization part” of the writing progress comes into play – the very part that has me tied up in knots.
More Information about my Current WIP:
- It is a romantic high fantasy
- I’m planning on a series with another 4-6 novels to follow
- This is book 1, and I expect it to come in at 120k – 150k words
- It is in first draft
- It is approaching the halfway mark at 240 MS pages
- Currently, there are 7 POV characters and 16 secondary characters on 3 continents (more to come)
- So far there has only been seven hours of story progression (this will speed up, but not significantly for this book)
I share this information because, in a nutshell, my story has . . .
. . . lots of characters
. . . doing lots of things
. . . in lots of difference places
. . . all at the same time.
In addition, there are new and unusual cultures, strange creatures, and seven distinct religions. There is magic, a different monetary system, a unique mode of transportation, atypical weather, etc., etc., and so forth.
And sometimes (I won’t lie) . . . it all gets a bit confusing. Is my time line progressing accurately? Are the characters growing, changing as they should? Have I given enough backstory so the readers can follow the plot? Or is too much backstory slowing the pace? Constantly, I struggle with the question: do I continue to move forward OR do I go back and nail down the foundation of each plot line, of each character, wrapping them all up in a neat package of well-crafted world building?
Simply put: Do I follow the writing process in totality or do I follow it incrementally?
Even more simply put: Write or Edit?
If it weren’t quite so pathetic, some of you might think it’s funny how much time I’ve spent bandying this question about. Adding to my angst, I love editing and hate the creative part of writing. I’m wary of putting too much effort into editing early in the story, especially in first draft. So, no editing until second draft, right?
However, I feel it is equally important to make sure I have a complete understanding of the character arcs as well as both the major and minor plot developments. So, edit now, right?
Back and forth. Yes and no. Write. Edit. Write. Edit.
And then the most amazing thought flitted through my head. We all know that some authors work on more than one story at a time. Could not this same principle be applied to my dilemma? Could I not do some work on editing, on fleshing out characters, on honing the plot while at the same time moving forward with my continuing saga? Better yet? Since I adore editing, why not reward myself with permission to edit after I’ve completed 20 pages new pages or a new chapter? Something like that.
And so, just now, if someone were to ask me, “Can you tell me what your writing process is?” I’d tell them that I follow the Writing Process. Incrementally. A bit of forward progress followed by the reward of editing. I’ll let you know how that works out.