Archive for the ‘How I Write Series’ Category

Angela is an 18-year-old college freshman who lives in Tokyo, Japan. Other than reading and writing, her hobbies include watching zombie movies, looking up random facts about Regency England, and kickboxing. She is currently working on a historical novel about a young debutante whose London debut goes bad. She also hopes to dabble in other genres such as science fiction and fantasy in the future.

You can find her on twitter: http://twitter.com/aekubo

She also blogs about Japan, random things that tickle her fancy, and her writing exploits on livejournal, which you can check out here: http://aekubo.livejournal.com/

To be honest, I never thought about wanting to write my own stories when I was little, unlike a lot of other writers I’ve met who were writing with Crayola crayons by the time they were five. I tried writing a few stories once in a while over the years, but they never got past the first page. However, I have always been a bookworm, and I used to spend a good amount of time at the public and school library when I was living in the United States.

My writing began in an unlikely way: by roleplaying. When I was twelve, I used to create characters and roleplay on the forums at Neopets before moving on to other communities online. It was there that I learned how to create strong characters, likely situations, and plotlines. If it wasn’t for roleplaying, my grammar and spelling would be atrocious, and you would be squinting at the computer screen, wondering what is being said in this post (of course, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t discovered roleplaying).

I started to dabble in novel writing when I was sixteen, but it was only until recently, thanks to friends on livejournal and a lovely blog called Let the Words Flow, that I began to take writing seriously.

In order to write, I need silence. I usually write at night or early in the morning in bed when there are no blaring sirens or screaming kids (I live next to a school) to annoy me.  However, I have written in the school library, at Starbucks, and even on a crowded train in order to finish something in time for a deadline. Although I have a playlist for each of my WIPs, I rarely listen to music when I write. Instead, I like to take walks and listen to the playlists on my I-pod while I try to think of how a certain scene will unfold or how a character will react to a tough situation.

My frequent walks are important for my writing. They’re how I come up with story ideas, characters, and plot twists. Whenever I’m having one of those days when I can’t think of anything to write, I always put in my earphones and pace around my room. Sometimes, it’s a bit embarrassing because my grandmother or younger sister will walk in on me and wonder why I’m walking in circles with my music at high volume.

Of course, there are times when I can’t write a certain scene no matter how much I pace. I usually go ahead and type up a future scene that I have less trouble writing and go back to the troublesome scene later. One thing I learned is that you should never force yourself to write something that you don’t want to write, because it will end up being crappy. I have numerous story excerpts and school essays proving just that. If all else fails, I curl up in bed with a good book, because reading other people’s work always makes me want to write.

There are also other cases where I cannot write at all. One is when I’m being overwhelmed with schoolwork and the other is when I don’t have any names for my characters. Characters without names feel incomplete, which makes it impossible to write. I’ve spent hours going through baby-naming sites coming up with the perfect name for just one character.

Lately, I’ve been more open to other writing methods. For example, I’ve never written an outline for any of my stories, but now I’m considering creating an outline for my historical novel and rewriting everything I’ve written so far. I’m also planning to write my future WIP—a supernatural YA about zombies—on paper instead of on Microsoft Word, because I heard some writers say that pen and paper are better than the keyboard.

Last week, I also set myself a daily goal of 500 words to encourage me to write more. So far, it’s been going well, and writing has gotten a whole lot easier. I haven’t encountered any problems with fulfilling my goal yet, but I like to use chocolate as an incentive to get myself to do something. I’m excited to say that I might be able to finish my first novel by the end of this year.

I’m also on the lookout for other ways to write. As I stated earlier, I’m always open to different methods of writing, because I can find out a lot just by experimenting. To me, writing is not only a journey where you follow the characters around on their exploits, but also a journey where you find out what fits you. I always try to go out of my comfort zone by writing in a new genre or taking risks. For example, before I started on my historical novel, The Debutante, I was a bit shy about writing about a period different about my own. In fact, the thought of romance used to put me off since I was still in the stage (and still sort of am) where I thought that most boys are yucky. However, as I wrote my historical novel, I was surprised to discover that I loved what I was doing.

I believe that not being able to write constantly has nothing to do with creativity or your writing ability, but the methods that you use or the environment that you write in. For example, you would never write a romantic comedy in a dark, stuffy room. Sometimes you might have less trouble writing if you set yourself a daily word count or pick out a specific time of day that you spend writing. Maybe the problem lies in the lack of inspirational music to listen to while you write.

I challenge you, readers, to do a little experimenting of your own. Never been a plotter? Well, take out a piece of paper and try a little brainstorming. Never write anywhere but your bedroom? Go outside with your laptop and see if the grass and trees give you inspiration. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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Note: This was supposed to be posted Friday the 6th of August, and it wasn’t because the damn internet stopped working on my laptop. Sorry for the delay. I hope you enjoy reading Ashley’s guest post. -Kayleigh

How do I write? When Kayleigh first asked me to do a guest post on this topic, my initial instinct was “Yes! Of course! How awesome, what a great idea!” Now that I sit here figuring out to put it into words, I’m feeling somewhat stumped. So to start off, let me show, not tell (ahhhh. Do you see what I did there? Show, don’t tell… Classic writing rule #1. I’ve been pushing that with my writing lately.. Anyways…).

Hi, I’m Ashley (otherwise known as @AshleyTenille on twitter). I have a goofy, sometimes strange (and, okay, a lot of the time perverted) sense of humor, think friends are incredibly important, like shiny things, and putting smiles on peoples’ faces. If you can’t tell already, my ‘showing’ you is how easily distracted I get. I’m also showing you that I can jump from one thing to another in an instant without missing a beat. I think how I write is a lot like how I am in real life. But before I get into the nitty-gritty, I’ll tell you a few (promise) things about myself. I’m 23, recently unemployed (laid off, long story), struggling through the fantastic swirls of life and I’ll be going back to school in the fall for Graphic Design. I have a blog if you care to dabble in a mixture of complete random nonsense (including random writing things)–thingsshesays.blogspot.com

Okay, how do I write? I can be a jumper. I have multiple WIPs going at once and usually start a new one before I can finish another one. But I always hang onto them because if I get stuck in one, sometimes I’ll suddenly get inspired to continue with one I haven’t dabbled in for a year. If I’m stuck in a spot, I’ll write an ‘insert’ (as I call them), which is a future scene that I’ve been inspired to write. Even if I don’t end up using it, it helps me get some words down and also gives me somewhat of a direction I know I need to go in.

One of THE most important tools for me with writing is MUSIC—so many of my scenes have been inspired by songs. If I’m stuck for what to write, I’ll sometimes just lay in bed with my iPod on, listening away until a song *sparks* something. Whenever I’m writing, I usually have music playing in the background and I jot down the songs that inspire future scenes with point form notes. When it comes to write that scene, I re-listen to specific songs and POOF! Magic is formed.

Writing on the computer is easier, and most of my stuff always ends up there, but a lot of the time I prefer writing long hand. Just having SO many notebooks filled with writing… it shows just how much you put into it. If that makes sense? And it shows (literally) more personality and effort than a computer screen.

I am definitely a pantser in the fact that I normally just DIVE right into writing, have multiple notebooks/random sheets of paper/random word files/random pictures for each WIP (work-in-progress). In my newest WIP, which is an urban fantasy novel about shifters, I’m trying to do things a little differently in that I’m researching/plotting beforehand and (trying) to be more organized with my writing and plotting.

I love toying with my characters and pushing them to near-breaking limits (or even past that!). I love to create drama for them and give them emotions and hardships to work through. Nothing in life comes easy and I like to mirror that in my novels. I try to keep it realistic while seeing how far I can push them (and myself). Cliffhangers are wonderful; even though my own cliffhangers even irk ME sometimes (I want to keep writing!).

I usually write in spurts; I’ll plow out huge amounts of words in a short amount of time (I call this ‘being in the zone’) and then I’ll go through times where I write NOTHING (usually when life gets in the way). During this time where I’m stuck for writing, I’ll go through my reading frenzy and go through four books in four days (or something crazy like that).

I have to say my newest favorite item for helping with plotting or keeping details organized is index cards; even if it’s just for a quick jot down on character descriptions. Another new favorite is graph paper notebooks (or blank page moleskins) because you can doodle and draw next to your notes.

One thing I’ve learned from doing NaNoWriMo last year (National Novel Writing Month – writing 50k in 30 days), is that even if your mind is drawing a blank, just go with it. Keep writing, or even skip to the next scene if you’re stuck. Completing NaNoWriMo last year was a HUGE eye-opener for me in the sense that the time crunch (I actually finished in 24 days because I was leaving for Dominican before the end of the month) forced out some of my best work because I couldn’t sit and dwell on it: I just WENT with it. I learned that sometimes with writing, even if it’s not your best work, just get it out to keep the flow going. You can always go back to it afterwards.

So in the end, I think I could consider myself an ‘all over the place’ kind of writer, who’s slowly learning how to be more organized. As a writer, I’m always learning new tricks and trades, always trying new things (while still hanging on to habits of the old).

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Megan is a 19-year-old writer who posts her stories and poems on fiction press. You can find them here: http://www.fictionpress.com/u/526555/VELVETxKISSES

When I start a novel or short story, I’m not usually around a computer. So I start writing out the scene on paper, but as soon as I can, I type it up in a Word Document for several reasons: One, if I just keep the paper copy, I will lose it. No doubt about it. Two, I can type faster (and more legibly) than I can write. My brain is going at such speeds trying to write down all the thoughts that are flying through and when I’m writing, my handwriting gets so illegible that it doesn’t matter that I’d wrote it down. Even when I type it up, my brain thinks sentences faster than I can type them, so I’ll have some sentences running together and sometimes I forget words.

I can write most anywhere, but a quiet place is preferred. If it’s not quiet, I make it quiet by putting on my noise-canceling headphones with no music bleeding out of them. I’ve been known to jot ideas down everywhere. Once I wrote it on the back of my hand at work, and I was called to the principal’s office (I worked at a daycare/preschool) and asked to wash it off. Another time, this was much more recently, while I was working at a gas station, I wrote a couple ideas for names that had been floating around up there on the back of a receipt that a customer didn’t want. So I can write ideas anywhere. When I had a laptop I could cart around upstairs and into the kitchen, I definitely did so. Nowadays I’m restricted to working on a desktop computer, which is (obviously) stationed at a desk.

Another quirky thing about me is that music is a huge inspiration in my writings. I’m currently working on a novel where all the chapters are different titles of songs that have to do with what goes on in the chapter. So, obviously, music is a big part of the writing process for me. However, I can’t listen to it while I’m writing. I start dazing out and focusing on the song more than what’s happening in the story. When I start the editing process though, I do like to listen to some music. When I wrote “Your Call”, I listened to the namesake, “Your Call” by Secondhand Serenade, as I edited. It helped to keep me in the mood and the feel of what was happening, and I actually cried; hearing the song and reading the words together.

So now that you know some of my preferences, I’ll tell you a bit about what actually goes into my writings. When I write a story, it’s often about a friend of mine and me. For instance, “Your Call” was written after my best friend told me he was going to sign up for the army. I twisted and exaggerated and morphed the goodbye scene with my best friend to a story that was related to the situation, but was so different that only my best friend and I could tell who it was about. (The second half of “Your Call” is completely fictional. He didn’t really die.) So story ideas come to me as I live my life, which is quite frustrating when I’m busy at work or out with friends.

Sometimes, however, I do get those “Oh man! What if…?” moments. I’m currently writing a short story that started with me looking at a cute pillow a friend had made for me. On it was a picture of Tinker Bell and in the top corner it said PETER PAN inside of a heart and arrow. One thing lead to another and now, five months later I’m starting on the last few chapters of “Peter Pan is Not my Home Boy”. So while most of my stories are started with real life scenarios or roll-play of real life scenarios, I do have those moments when an idea just smacks me across the face.

After I get an idea going, I work out how it’s going to end.  Before, when I was younger and less serious about my writings, I sort of just sat down and wrote whatever came to mind. Those turned out to be horrible, unfinished messes. I think Kayleigh was even “privileged” enough to beta one or two of those for me. So now, I tend to over-work the idea, in a way. After the initial thought is jotted down, I take the main characters and create character charts for them. It’s long, but it’s fun and so worth it. That way, when I start a story and lose inspiration for it, I can reread the character chart and what’s already been written and I can pick it back up. Another thing that helps me pick up a story after I’ve lost inspiration for a couple weeks is to create a chapter outline. I’ve only done that with one novel, one I’ve been working on for quite some time now. But it has helped a lot. There are times when I just want to sit down and immerse myself into my make-believe worlds and to get me back into my make-believe world, my chapter outline really helps. In the one I’m referring to, I took a chapter, wrote a basic summary of what I wanted to happen in that chapter, found a title and moved on to the next one. In “Peter Pan is Not my Home Boy” (from now on referred to as PPNHB) I didn’t do such a strict outline, which I think has helped me immensely. To keep my mind on track I simply jotted down “Early March-Shad’s bday party” under the story itself. It helps me to remember what I want to happen while also leaving room for imagination and a little leeway for interpretation. I think I like that way better because I’m not worn out on PPNHB like I am with the other story.

Once the chapter outline and character charts are finished, I start to work on the story. So far, I’ve never finished a novel. I only started organizing my thoughts just recently though, and that’s helped so much more than I can say. When I started the first draft for PPNHB in February 2010, I didn’t think it would progress farther than a one-shot. Now that it has, I’ve projected my finishing the first draft October of this year. Usually, I write poetry or one-shots. When writing a one-shot, I tend to be a little more lax with the organizational process, because it’s never longer than ten pages. “Your Call” is a one-shot and the first draft for that took me just a few hours.  Also, I tend to not edit my things. I think that the first draft, all that’s raw, stripped and bare, is always the best. And if I do see edits that need to be made, I copy the whole segment into a separate document so I can edit and compare. Simple things like spelling errors or missing punctuation I fix in the first draft, but words that are used inappropriately or are poorly placed, I fix in the second draft.

As I’m writing I’ve learned that, for me, it’s best to write in order. It’s a really odd phenomenon that probably isn’t the best thing, but as I’m writing, my characters seem to grow and develop themselves. With the one novel I’m working on, “Flown Away”, the main female character, Aliss, progressed from a vicious-insult-spitter, to a softened-thoughtful-debater and finally to the loving-doting-girl-friend. It was part of the plot for her to fall for E.J, but when I had started the writing process I hadn’t meant for Aliss to change so drastically. Seeing this change, I’ve learned that if I were to start the novel, skip forward ten chapters and continue writing, then go back and add in those ten chapters later, my character would seem really flaky and unstable. Whereas when I write in order, the progression is smooth and makes sense with the plot line.

You might not be able to tell that I love to write in the fantasy/supernatural/paranormal genre if you read the short stories, one-shots or novels I’ve written. PPNHB is probably the only fantasy story I will ever finish. All my short stories and one-shots are usually romantic-tragedy, or friendship-tragedy. Because I have a tragic mind and it just seems that all my stories have sad endings. Sometimes the main character learns through the hardships, but the endings are usually sad. Even in the novel I’m working on now, the first installment of the series ends on a sad note. So tragedy is usually my forte, I’m sort of embarrassed to say.

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I’m an 18 year old who goes by the name ‘Jessica’ in real life, but by the pen name Nikki-Lee Mars (mainly because people I known in real life aren’t supportive of my writing) on the internet. I’m in my first year of uni, studying Psychology. Sure, I love picking at people’s brains, but what I love most is reading and writing.

I recently finished my first novel, Ruby Red, and am in the midst of trying to edit it within an inch of its life, whilst working on my second novel. I specialise in fantasy, with a huge interest in faeries.

You can follow me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/nlmars
And you can follow my blog, where I’ll talk about life, books and writing: http://nl-mars.livejournal.com/

How do I write? I’ve never actually thought about that before Kayleigh asked me to guest post on her blog. After a lot of thinking and going through my notebooks and my blog, I wasn’t any closer to finding out how I write. But then I realised that it was because I didn’t have any set rules for how I wrote each novel/story/whatever. How I wrote my first attempt at a novel is so different to how I’m writing my current novel.

Before NaNoWriMo of last year, I was the kind of person who pantsed through every piece. I never made any plans. I didn’t know any of the characters, I never knew the plot, except for the most basic plot (example: boy is turned into puppet by witch. Witch’s apprentice, girl, ends up helping him, turns him back. That was honestly the extent of my planning). This method worked for me, until I tried my hand at writing a novel. A serious attempt at a novel. Then I realised that pantsing just wasn’t a good idea with pieces larger than 8,000 words. I got stuck halfway through my novel, and then I decided to take the plunge and draw up some maps.

I never realised I could learn so much just by drawing up a map. That single map helped me to figure out the basic outline of the novel: what would happen, where they would go, who they would meet, and any side quests. So now, before I start a novel, I spend a bit of time trying to get to know the characters, the storyline etc. I don’t make the outlines too detailed, otherwise, I just feel like I have no freedom to be creative. I basically write a sentence or two summary for each chapter, something to let me know the basic direction I should go in. But I still have space to surprise myself with something I never realised would fit in the novel. For my first completed novel, RUBY RED, I added three characters that I thought were simple background characters, but they turned out to be quite vital to the progression of the story. Thing is, I hadn’t actually planned them out at all.
I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a pantser or a plotter, or an in-betweener.

Inspiration comes easily to me, it can be a sudden idea that randomly pop into my head, or it could be from me analysing old fairy tales and asking myself ‘what if?’. For Ruby Red, I was inspired by the 2006 version of Jane Eyre, where she is forced into a red room. At the same time, I had been reading Holly Black’s Tithe, so my brain just mashed the two together. So, I basically get inspiration from a lot of things. I always write them down in my special ‘idea’ notebook, which is in tatters because of how much I’ve used it.

When it comes to naming characters or places, I’m very deliberate and specific in the meanings. In RUBY RED, I had named one of my characters ‘Renfrew’, which was Celtic, meaning ‘from the still river’. Now, Renfrew is a kelpie, so you can probably see why that name is significant.
I’m also somewhat OCD with names. If they don’t feel perfect, and if they don’t seem to have that spark, then I won’t use it. It has to be THE ONE. I won’t progress through my story if I don’t know what my characters are called.

I try to be as organised as possible with my writing, which means separate books for vague ideas, full on plots and outlines, and where I write snippets of story in when I’m away from my laptop. I colour-codes my notes, and use so many post-its that you could say that I have an obsession. This is really odd, considering that I’m usually not a very organised person outside of my writing. In my last year of high school, all my notes were written in one book, if that gives any indication as to my organisation fail.

With the actual writing process, it’s complicated. I go through phases where I’ll write 1,000+ words a day for a week, then abruptly stop. This hiatus could go on for a few days to a few weeks, then I’ll randomly start writing again. I’ll sometimes try to write during those breaks, to get myself into the habit of writing, but the writing is poor, and the word count low. Because of this, my work can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.

I have a few quirky habits, or rules, that I have during writing. I must always have something to drink, whether it be my favourite, chai tea, or even just water or Coke.

I find that I write best in the morning, between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. Watching the sunrise is one of the most inspiring things I can think of. It never fails me.

I write on my laptop at my desk almost all the time. During the day, I’ll change places; I might move to the sunroom or onto the deck in our backyard if the weather is nice. But I’ll never write in bed. If I’m at school or on a bus or train, I’ll pull out my Smiggle (www.smiggle.com.au, I always use Smiggle. Their notebooks are just so pretty and inspiring) notebooks that I always carry around and write, but I’m more comfortable with typing. It’s less of a strain on my wrists, I think.

When I type, it’s always in Arial Narrow size 10. I always have music playing. In fact, I have playlists made for each story, each important scene and each character. They help motivate me, and I end up finding myself typing away to the beat of the song. As a result, the songs I choose are almost always fast-paced.

I’m still essentially learning how I write. Who knows, maybe I’ll never fully learn. Maybe I’ll just keep evolving my technique. That’s why I love being a writer, because every day is a journey, every day, you learn something new about yourself.

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Hello! My name is Courtney. I’m a 24 year old student/teacher/blogger/daughter/sister/fiancée. I’m also an aspiring author of several genres of fiction. I write Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance, as well as Romantic Suspense, Urban Fantasy, and Young Adult novels. Writing is my passion; research is my hobby. There’s nothing else I’d rather do than sit down and create stories.

You can find me on my personal blog, Work in Progress http://courtneyreese86.blogspot.com, at my critique group’s blog, CritiqueThisWIP http://critiquethiswip.blogspot.com, or on Twitter as @courtneyreese86 http://www.twitter.com/courtneyreese86. Now that the introductions are over, let’s move on to today’s post, shall we?

How do I write? Well, every writer is different, and we each have our own way of doing it. When I first decided to do this post, I assumed it would be fairly simple…an easy topic that I could tackle in a night. Boy was I wrong. I know how to write, but I’ve never looked at how I do it. I suppose this will be one of those self-enlightening posts in which everyone will look at me with wide, horror-struck eyes—and laugh. It’s okay; I like a good laugh too.

I’m a sucker for new ideas; I love them too much for my own good. I’m a total plotter but my novels aren’t set in stone. If something needs to change or I want to add a new bit, I fit it in. I like organization but I’m not rigid on the details. My novels always start off with a single thought or scene. From there, the control freak in me takes over and I start the plotting process. Usually, plotting is my favorite part. There is so much potential in the beginning. I use two dry erase boards and loads of post-it notes; everything is color coded. When the ideas start flying, the post-its start flying! Some of the ideas are really bad, but others are keepers. In the end, everything finds a place, be it in the trash can or in my book. After that, I transfer it all over my handy-dandy plotting-spreadsheets and start writing.

I was young when I first started writing; too young to really understand the dos and don’ts of grammar. I look back to those days with a happy kind of envy. Back then, writing was so easy. I didn’t care about commas or semi colons, participle phrases or dangling modifiers. All that mattered was getting the story written.  Adverbs were my friends and ‘telling’ was the shit. Oh, how easy it used to be…

But then, one day, I started learning about grammar and my writing style started to change, subtly at first, then like a flood. Writing was not so simple anymore. And of course, (stubborn me) I can’t just write, and then go back later to edit. Nope, I have to do it all in one go; otherwise my writing isn’t worth the time it takes to read. I know, I know. Go ahead and scold me; I’ve heard it all before. It’s just the way I function—the way I write. It’ll take me an hour to write a paragraph sometimes. I’ve been working on switching my habits and writing without my editing-goggles on, but it’s still a tough task. Some days are easier than others, but for me, writing without editing is a huge undertaking. It takes work, practice, and a few too many slaps on the wrist. They say we use two different parts of the brain when writing and editing: the creative side and the analytical side. By doing the two-in-one, I’m actually handicapping myself.

I’m pretty anal about writing my stories. I’ve been known to take years to complete a novel. Some of them get written a bit faster, but a few stubborn ones refuse to be hurried along. My current WIP is the first in a paranormal romance series called Nightlings. So far, I’ve been working on this series for about two years, though I only started writing it about it year ago. It took me the better part of a year to plot out the first few books, get the characters established, and create my complex, paranormal world. I don’t mind the constant “time-suckage”; it’s all part of my writing style.

Have I ever given up on writing a novel? Yes and no. There was this fan-fiction piece I started writing in the 8th grade; it has been moved to the bottom of a drawer, never to again see the light of day. There is also a paranormal romance novel that started writing in high school. It was my first paranormal piece and I loved it! Unfortunately, the computer I was using did not love it, and crashed, taking my half-completed, 50,000 word WIP with it. That was the first time I learned the “back-up lesson”—and to this day, I hold a grudge against that damn PC.

So how do I write? It’s a constant battle…

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Maria, known as MariaSweet on Twitter, is 22 and will graduate with honours in International Journalism the 16th of July this year.

She is addicted to reading, dancing (in the sense that she’s had numerous classes, including ballet, since she was a kid) and she loves to write. She hopes to one day be a published writer.

She takes an active interest in the publishing industry and is looking for an editor’s internship within any publishing house. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy, paranormal, YA, MG, historical romance and romance. She will also, for research or if it’s funny, read children’s books.

She, like many other writers, loves listening to movies scores when writing. Such as the Harry Potter scores. And she has a problem that a certain amount of famous writers have had: a drinking problem. Don’t worry, in her case, it’s just extra strong coffee and herbal teas like peppermint tea.

“How I write” by Maria

How do I write? Personally, my writing process has not changed much since I was about 5- 6-years-old, but it has changed shape and form and solidified more in my late teens, around 16 to be more precise. Each person has a writing process unique to them, and they pretty much stick with it and that process might or might not share some similarities with someone else’s writing process. That much is common knowledge, so to speak. Some people can even change writing styles at some point in their lives. Not so for me, at least so far.

I recently found out what I’m called according to my writing style courtesy of Myra McEntire and her first VLog (which can be found here: http://writingfinally.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-first-vlog-no-foolin.html). I’m a pantser, which means I fly by the seat of my pants. I am not a plotter: never have been, never will be. I have been ‘accused’ of being an organizational freak, a decent researcher and methodical in a wacky sort of way—yes there is definitely a method to my madness—but never of being a plotter.

I will write, write, write until I am done and disregard overall word count or chapter word count. At the end when I start editing, I will cut words, starting from 20,000 words all the way to 50,000 words, if not more. It depends on what length the book/novel needs to be, not to mention useless scenes and ones that make absolutely no sense or don’t mesh with the rest of the material. My characters, as Myra says, boss me around and have free rein. As much as that annoys me sometimes, hey it works. So who am I to argue against it; if the character wants to have a stupid name, for example, then he’ll get it, as I am not inclined to try and fight it—I’ll end up losing the fight anyway, so what’s the point?

I also lose momentum or interest very easily due to the way I write and get inspiration. In addition I have somewhat of a low attention span. If I don’t get all, or at least some of the pieces of the story, I can’t write a thing. I don’t care if you sit me in front of the computer or give me a pad and pen for the whole day; I will not write. I’ll just find something else to do to occupy me, like read a book, and the idea(s) etc, will come when it/they come.

Proof of this, for example, is when I did homework or had to read a really crappy and boring book for school—that really wasn’t something I’d normally pick up to read—I’d simply pick something else up, cover the text and make up my own brand new stories to go with the pictures that were in it. I particularly favoured illustrated books and occasionally children’s picture books. I’m sure I’m not the only one who used to do this. Now that is something that used to entertain me for hours on end, its great fun! I still do it actually and one of my favourites was/is the Bible surprisingly, or not depending on how you see it, as it has some stunning illustrations…

But I digress…

To get back to the point, the whole pantser situation is secondary and comes after what is the core –the essences as it were- of my writing process. I have a very odd way of writing. It comes to me in little bursts, in dreams when I sleep, even when I daydream. I could be anywhere at any given time and my muse will just sing to me and that’s it. I will grab the closest napkin, piece of scrap paper –anything that can be written on and is in/resembles the form of a sheet basically– and a pen and will write it down. It’s like putting a puzzle together and to most people I appear mad and rude every so often, especially because I get all flushed and excited –especially if a particularly long time has elapsed since the last time a piece revealed itself to me (I hope Victoria Schwab will not mind me using that term as it’s very apt!).

At first, I thought that all the teachers that tried to “beat it out of me”, belittling me and telling me that I am not smart enough because I wasn’t a plotter —if I had a penny for every time one of them said ‘I will make a proper plotter of you yet’ I’d be filthy rich by now— must be right. I mean why don’t other kids/people write like me (I know: naive, thinking that I was the only one but I hadn’t encountered up until now anyone that spoke of their writing process and style openly and sincerely and I was just too shy to ask).

I tried hard to do it numerous times, I honestly did but I failed at it just as many times; I’m just not a plotter. It really doesn’t work for me; it restricts me, frustrates me to no end and makes me cranky and unhappy. Not to mention I just blank out, cannot write a word worth a damn.

So thanks Victoria, Myra and all the other awesome writers like C.J. Redwine for showing me that there is no right or wrong way to write. You do it how you feel most comfortable and what is more productive for you personally. Plus I feel tons better that I’m not alone in my ways (Victoria’s VLog can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyl9Zt9XxU8).

I don’t get the pieces of the puzzle in the right order either. My writing is very erratic and I need to piece it together when I’ve gathered all the big/small pieces by creating the in-fillers, all those in-betweens that provide the skeleton that will hold it all together along with the pieces that will make up the flesh of the story —‘the puzzle pieces’—; and will help everything stick together more solidly. For example, I could get a major scene of the story/piece of the puzzle or something as small as the image of a single card from a Tarot Deck that signifies something important for the story. There’s no set way. Then I begin to refine my plot, break the chapters down more properly, and reposition the scenes etc, yet again so I can find the right order to make them fit better. What comes next is the word cutting, the language correcting, cutting out unnecessary expressions, etc. I could end up with as many as ten drafts on some occasions! And that’s what works for me.

It’s a slow process and it means I can write only one book at a time with a few short stories on the side, etc.

One habit I’ve really kept since I was a kid, and have been trying to break because I really regret having done it, is/was burning/destroying and generally getting rid of every single story I’ve ever written about a few weeks after I’ve finished it, because it just was/is not good enough. I’ve started and dropped many manuscripts that way, because I realised there was no plot or it was one big cliché or even when there was a plot but the story was just not going anywhere and it was as dull as watching paint dry.

As a matter of fact I personally think that watching paint dry would be marginally more entertaining than reading some of the stuff I’ve written. Plus I was only a kid and not exactly an expert at it. The reason I did/do it is because if I keep them I dwell on them and keep obsessing about it which is really not healthy… It’s still the start, I need lots more practice and I’m not saying that it might not change or evolve in different ways in the future but at least I’ve learned to accept and use my writing process/style to my advantage and even have fun with it.


Next time on “How I write”: Courtney Reese will blog about how she writes.

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How I write

Hannah Moskowitz does fast-drafting. This means she writes her novels in 5 to 8 days, most of the time. (More about that on her blog: http://hannahmosk.blogspot.com/ which you HAVE to read. I mean she’s 19, she loves Fight Club and Rent and her novel BREAK, about a 17-year-old determined to break every bone in his body, came out last year. And did I mention she’s awesome?)

How I write

Now I’ve only finished one novel in my life, so I don’t know if how I wrote that one will be how I write the one I’m writing. Man that’s a confusing sentence.

How about a list of all the novels I’ve started and finished? Most of which I didn’t finish, but whatever.

  1. SAME DIFFERENCES: Crap. I think I had an outline, but I never finished it. 9540 words before I gave up.
  2. SURRENDERING: I had an outline, more or less, and I haven’t the faintest idea how long it took me to write. That’s how long ago it was. Also: it sucked. It was almost 12 000 words. COMPLETE
  3. LIVING: Sequel to SURRENDERING. Crap. Utter crap. 2276 words.
  4. SELENE YOUNGBLOOD: Not crap, apart from the first chapter. I’m hoping to rewrite it someday and finish it. Approx 10 000 words.
  5. UNWANTED VAMPIRISM: *shudders* Worse than crap: shit. 4282 words.
  6. A BLANKET UNWOVEN: Crap, but I know learned something. 31 333 words. COMPLETE
  7. CATCHING RODRIGO: Not crap. 3971 words.
  8. NOTHING’S CHANGED:  Kinda crap. 7023 words.
  9. THE VEILED MOON: Not really crap. 4795 words.
  10. THE HEALING PROCESS: Had potential. 596 words.
  11. ZOE: Don’t even remember it. 792 words.
  12. HAYLEY: Loved the main character. 663 words.
  13. ALICE WHITLEY: Why on earth did I even write that? 510 words.
  14. EMMELINE: Ugh. 185 words before I gave up.
  15. HER SMILE: Had potential, liked the idea, lacked plot. 8365 words.
  16. KENNA’S CHOICE: No outline. And according to my critique partner, not so crappy. 50 956 when I finished it. COMPLETE
  17. PLAYING WITH DARTS:  No outline, at first. 31 345 words.

IDEAS: I get a sentence–not an image, or a character, or a plot or a “what if…” type of question–and start writing immediately. No outlining beforehand, or figuring out who the main character is. I just write.

The best three examples for this are Selene Youngblood, Kenna’s Choice and Playing with Darts:

  1. “I dared look out from behind the tree that hid me.” Will change when I have time to edit Selene Youngblood. (Title will have to change too.)
  2. “I’d be lying if I said I felt safe in his presence.” The new and improved first sentence is “Aura’s voice in my head tells me to calm down.”
  3. “Morana had spent hours hunting down a vampire belonging to a particular tribe or pack or whatever they called it, so she wasn’t about to let this vampire escape.”

For those 3 novels, it’s those sentences that popped into my head.

I started writing A Blanket Unwoven sometime in 2008, probably in June. I have no idea when I finished it, probably before May 2009, because that’s when I started writing Kenna’s Choice.


  • I take months to write short to very short novels
  • I don’t write every day when I’m writing a novel, even though I try to
  • I listen to music when I write
  • I close the door when I write
  • I do not write more than one novel at a time
  • The first chapter of a novel is the easiest part for me
  • I write in chronological order — I don’t write chapter 1 then chapter 4 then chapter 2 then 3, but sometimes I’ll write a couple hundred words of a scene that takes place later in the book
  • I use Scrivener to write —  I switch to TextEdit or DarkRoom or plain old paper if I’m having trouble writing
  • My novels are dialogue-heavy
  • My novels are family-themed (but not suitable for the whole family–too many bad things happen and there is way too much swearing, violence and death)
  • I tend to write urban fantasy (i.e. vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches, etc)
  • And yet my first novel was a YA with no supernatural elements

I hope this huge, messy post makes sense and amused you. Leave a comment or go write a blog post about how YOU write. Next Thursday, Maria will guest post about how she writes.

And here’s a video about how another write writes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyl9Zt9XxU8&feature=youtu.be

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