I love learning about how each writer’s process is different. Plotters have their method – and then among plotters there are all different processes. Pantsers have a different method – and again, within that group, each has their own process. Mine? I’m a bit of a plotter and a pantser. I usually have a beginning (which changes) and where I think the story ends (which can also change). A few of the points in between might also be there but I know the story will shape itself as I work through it and learn more about my characters.
But in addition to those differences, I write a lot of different stories at the same time. I know that’s not the case for everyone. A friend is revising a novel she has worked on for years. She’s now editing it and has begun a new novel but she was able to stay on track with the single novel. I have never figured out how to do that. I seem to need to take a side track every now and then to a different story to learn things. That may sound strange but it works for me. At one point, I think I needed to learn something about writing violence – it wasn’t needed in my novel in a direct way, so I ended up writing a short story that may one day be more. The act of writing that allowed me to move forward in my novel along a line that for whatever reason I seemed to be blocked from until I wrote the story. Later, in the subplot, I found that there was a violent act that I hadn’t learned about my character – the short story helped me work through how that impacted the main story as well as the subplot. But it took a while to find the relationship that my brain instinctively understood.
Now, I just follow along when that urge hits – I know that whatever I am writing will inform something else. I don’t quite understand how it is all interconnected – only that it is. The stories range in genre and length – and sometimes I only need to get them started, leaving them to be finished at a later date. I keep all this in a short story file on my computer – finished ones are separated once they are ready to be submitted. And I am submitting across genres. I know the conventional wisdom is to write in a genre and build your platform so your readers can find you. And I know that readers want to read in the same genre as a general rule but that’s not me and that’s not how I write. So I am honoring that process as best I can. I know that may not be the most logical path, but it’s mine and a benefit is that I can submit to a number of markets at the same time with stories across many genres. I now have short stories in the mystery, fantasy and horror genres. I suspect that I will eventually lean towards mysteries since my novel is in that genre.
As to the mechanics of my process, I work to write some every day. Normally early in the morning works best for me. I am fresher and it is quiet. However, that doesn’t always work and if I miss that time, I try to find an hour or so to work on something. I find that having a critique group or calls with writing friends to talk/read really helpful for keeping me on track and accountable. Those appointments force me to schedule time in so that I am ready to read or submit on time.
What about you? What’s your process? Do you write every day? What tips do you have for keeping on track with your writing?