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.
Dmitriy Cherevko ©123RF.com
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.
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.
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. 😉