THE Process

Okay, here’s the deal: I kept fooling myself into believing I have a systemized process, and it’s become abundantly clear I’m full of shit.

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been fairly quiet on both this site and my poetry site. For the most part, I’ve had my head down working on the Lessons in Control series. I’m getting more and more excited to talk about it as we get closer to launch in December, but for now, I’m tied up (heh) in edits for The Assignment (book one), the drafting of The Discipline (book two)—and later down the line, the drafting of The Reward (book three).

The process has been thrilling, shocking, and terrifying, all at the same time. My editor, Rhonda Stapleton, has been a dream through the work we’re doing on book one—but alongside that, I’ve had a hell of a journey on book two. Whatever “process” I swore I had for writing books has been, well, doctored.

B/W still vintage image of typewriter

Dmitriy Cherevko ©

Let me give you a little background. The first real book I wrote (because I’m excluding the fictional biography I wrote at 11 as well the YA horror I wrote at 13) was a romantic fantasy that took me 17 years to complete, and at the end of it, I learned one very important thing: I’m neither a fantasy writer OR a strictly spec fic writer. I love sexual content, and I love dripping that all over the pages of whatever the hell I’m writing. So for my next book, I opted to write a comedic memoir about the year and a half I semi-intentionally stopped having sex. (True story!) Turned out, for a book about not having sex, it actually had a lot of sexual content—but it was also about healing from heartbreak, finding oneself, and a bit of ridiculousness that happened in that period, among other things. Honestly, I haven’t talked a ton about this thing since it’s shelved in lieu of what I currently love writing (that would be erotica in its various forms), but, the point is that it took me about three years to write, the end confirming that (1) I needed to write more because it was my life blood and (2) I was capable of finishing things faster than I thought.

Next came a bunch of short stories. I had a spec fic writing mentor at the time who suggested what I needed was to start and stop over and over again, so I could feel more confident in the process before I took on another book. Whoa nelly, did that turn out to be a boon: I wrote something like two dozen short stories in a few months. Plus, I wrote them fast. 4-6k in a couple hours? No problem! I had become a binge writer who also learned the skill of drafting without backtracking, because one can always chop and revise later. I was pretty sure that nifty trick would carry with me for life.

Flash forward to the recent past, and there came The Assignment. I’d been plotting and stewing about how I might be able to write an erotica series for a couple months, and, meanwhile, had an extremely transformative relationship that sparked all sorts of ideas in my head. Then…we broke up. Okay, in actuality, I had to pry myself away because the entire thing was about to ruin me, but a well-timed vacation and a keen interest in the “do not disturb” function on my phone created utter magic. Even through my devastation, the plot of my story became clear and I proceeded to channel all that breakup energy into writing The Assignment. That book—which I am seriously excited for you to read when it comes out in December—took me a whopping week and a half to outline, and right around one month to draft.

For realsies.

And suddenly—I knew my process: outline, speed draft without editing, let it breathe, go in and proceed to smoothe. Check! Oh yeah. It was that simple, and it would be, forever. Right? So while the final version was off wandering the world for a home, I proceeded to start another book—but the entire time, I couldn’t figure out what had happened to my process because I seemed to be going in circles…for almost eight months.

I’d just upped my speed and written a book in a month. How on earth did this thing take so long?

Then came some real life chaos that fucked with me. It took a while for me to get a clue on how to handle it, but when I did, I opted for a book break. I spent a couple months writing shorts and reworking my confidence, so that when The Assignment found a home at Carina Press and they wanted the entire series, I was both giddy and ready to write book two. Except, not so much. I was still contending with the residual chaos that culminated in the attack of the chronic migraines while also struggling to realize this was in no uncertain terms affecting my process. I drafted about 30k. I got migraine sick. I drafted 10k. I was still migraine sick. I tore up 20k. Edits for book one came. I finished them and then drafted 20k. But again, I was really sick and had to straight up stop. When I was migraine-free and ready to go again, I not only cut out about 15k, but completely replotted the rest of the book.

Ha. Take that, process!

Oh, and my binge writing tendency in that entire time period? M.I.A. 1-2k became a good day! But I plodded along, accepting that I would produce, delete, rewrite, break, etc., until somewhere around December when—while setting my 2016 goals—I took a step back and thought, hmm, maybe I should just write the damn book however it comes out, and stop being an asshole to myself because the process happens to have changed from what it was before.

Amazing concept, right?

I have to say—since then, things have continued to be pretty good over here. I turned in another round of edits on book one, and when I sat down to begin the final chunk of the book two draft this last weekend, I didn’t even bat an eyelash at the fact that the first thing I did was replot the last 20k again.

Go figure.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it’s safe it say: I have discovered the real process! It’s good, and I’m going to share it with you. You should grab a pen. Go ahead, I will wait. *Taps foot.* I know you want the Secret to the Writing Universe I discovered over the last few months, and now, I’m going to give it to you!

Okay, you ready?

Here it is.

The official process is…

Whatever fucking works.

Yep. That’s it. (Did you write that down?) 🙂

I have no idea if my process is “no process” because of life things, or just because that’s the truth of the matter, but I’m pleased to have established this riveting…process. Also, I’m curious about everyone else—what’s your process? I’d love to hear in the comments.

For now, though, time for me to get back to work.

It’s a process. 😉



Posted in About, Confessions, Lessons in Control Series, Musings, Writing Projects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. ‘Whatever fucking works.’
    So true 😀
    I’ve the first drafts of two novels written. The first I wrote over six weeks start to finish without stopping. Then because I stupidly hadn’t backed it up and my PC died, I lost all heart for writing. 18 months later I did a short story writing course and novel number two was born, that one I wrote out by hand, up, down, sideways, back and forwards. It was all over the place! Then novel number one crept back into my head and I started making notes, by hand. I completely re-wrote it. Then along came Sir, who just happens to be a computer guy, rescued my book off the PC so I could work on it again 😀
    During NaNo last year I re-arranged and edited it a bit so I now have a coherent story. I haven’t looked at it since, but it’s begun floating about in my head again, so I know the time has come for a serious re-write. I may even get it finished. Meanwhile novel number two is in the background again.
    And of course in between all of this have been the short pieces I’ve written for the blog, some of which are still at the draft stage. I find I just write what I want when the idea takes me. I can’t plan to work on something on a particular day.

    • I think that’s a fabulous strategy, Dawn – “write what I want when the idea takes me.” YES. I feel the same with the occasional poem or flash piece I need to write, and for the most part, it’s a wonderful plan (a little rough on deadline, but appealing nonetheless). I love that you write by hand – scares the crap out of me – but I particularly love that your first novel was saved off the hard drive! That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing your process. It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one doing whatever fucking works! 🙂

  2. When I first came to the writer’s pages on FB, after my first 2 or 3 books had been published, I read all the rules of writing and helpful tips that other writers posted, and thought ‘Wow, I’m doing it all wrong. No wonder I’m not selling huge numbers – they must be totally crap to other people.’ The idea for a story comes into my head, I sit down and begin typing the story. I tend to re-read each chapter as I am going, and edit as necessary. I have no idea how the story is going to proceed. I’m as much in the dark as my readers are at that stage. It just sort of evolves. My first draft is usually my last draft (with alterations as necessary). I then leave the book alone for a week or two and then come back and re-read it and see if it makes sense. If I am happy with it I send it to my publishers, who have to date always accepted them, thankfully, and then get on with another book. I don’t pretend to be a great novelist, or even a skilled writer, I just consider that I am a storyteller who writes erotic romances. When I am free from my present responsibilities I plan to try and be more serious about my writing, and then I might become more systematic in my methods. So, having said all that, I think your advice of ‘whatever fucking works’ is probably excellent advice. My biggest frustration is the same as many other writers, in not getting enough feedback from readers to see if they enjoy or hate my offerings. I write lots of short stories on my blog and get the odd remark from my (wonderful!) reader/s, but it drives me insane not to get feedback from people – even if it is only to say that my writing is crap and I should just give it up! But I guess that this is a common frustration among writers. PS Looking forward to reading your new book when it comes out, Jade. You are on my list of writers I admire.

    • Oh, Rachel! You just made me blush! Thank you for the compliment. 🙂 *squee* As for your process, yeah, that pretty much nails it. Every person has her own unique way of doing it, and it’s got to work for that person – so whatever goes. I agree the feedback piece is so crucial, too, and yet is so hard to get. I quit writing for several years in my twenties, and I remember saying to my close friends how frustrating it was to write endlessly for no one but me. So years later, I’m glad I got back to it and stuck with it. While there’s still not a ton of feedback, it’s nice to know you’re heard – even if by a small few. As I’m writing more I’m finding that it makes me feel good, in general (even with the newfound willy nilly process), so that makes whatever strategy a good one, in my book. (No pun intended.) 😉 Thank you so much for sharing your process, and all the sweet words, Rachel! XX

  3. I love the idea of a “writing process.” As a new author, I listen to others discuss their process and compare it to mine. In the end, I believe it is an individual thing. The reason I liked your phrase, “whatever fucking works,” is because it simply indicates the process is engaged. Isn’t that what we want? And then the best part, when it becomes past tense, your process created a writing product. Yey! “Whatever fucking worked.”

    • That is a wonderful way of looking at it! Very, very true. You just reminded me of a quote I once jotted down from a book I loved – When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan – in which one character says, “I don’t have far to go,” and another replies, “That may be…or it may be that you have a greater distance than you think. But either way, you’ll get there eventually.” (I might have even quoted that on this blog before, because I love it so.) Either way: it’s a journey, and when you’re done, you can definitely look back on it for all that it was, good, bad, up, down, insane, whatever. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  4. I can define my process in two words: Completely Random. (Sounds very much like he/she is Whatever Fucking Works’ long-lost twin! :)) Jane xxx

    PS – glad you’re feeling better.

    • I love the Completely Random process, and I think you’re right! Twins indeed! Thank you so much for commenting (and for the health comment), Jane! Here’s to much more Whatever Fucking Works and Be Completely Random about it writing, hmm? 🙂 XX

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