Talk to Me Tuesday

So as some of you may or may not know, I’m an Indie author. While this blog isn’t planned to be strictly about that, it is a big part of my life so it will come up.

Since I got started, I’ve gotten lots of questions from people about my process. I don’t pretend to know everything, quite the opposite actually. I learn something nearly every single day about the craft and I hope that never changes. Along the way, if I can help anyone, I’m happy to do it.

One of the big questions I get frequently is “What is your writing process?”

Well, to be honest, I’m a weird girl. Before you read anything about what I or any other writer does, you need to be open to the idea that just like every story, every writer is different. What works for me may not work for you and that is perfectly fine.

Outlining is a popular method for a lot of writers I know, but it’s never proved effective for me. Creating character profiles is another thing I hear a lot about and while I do it occasionally, I wouldn’t call it part of my usual process. I do take notes, but they’re a mess. I have a giant “pimp cup” on my desk from my wedding that has the perfect balance of candy and pieces of paper in it with my “notes” on them. It’s very unprofessional, but it works for me.

What works best for me is trusting my characters completely.

I never start a book until I’m about a week or two beyond “ready”. I wait until the characters are screaming at me to write and then add on another day or two for good measure. When we’re all ready to start climbing the walls, that’s when I start.

Before this, I rarely write a word down. For me, there are usually a few “key scenes” that they want to tell me about and sometimes, they just won’t stop talking about them long enough for me to start. With some of these scenes, I write down a rough draft of that scene only. I call them “checkpoints” and they can range from one line to twenty pages. The more emotional scenes are never written in advance and neither is the ending of the book. I like to wait to get to that part of the story so that I’ve gone through all the same emotions as my characters. I feel like for me, this is the best way for me to identify with what they’ve gone through up until that point in the story.

Once I’ve got my checkpoints done, I start at the beginning. Music is another huge part of my process, so I create a playlist in advance of a few songs that have the feel I’m looking for with the book. I’ll add to the playlist along the way, but I always start with about ten songs that really speak to me. When I’m ready, I turn on the playlist, close my eyes and I wait for them. Sometimes they come right away, sometimes it takes a little while, but they always come when they’re ready. Once they start talking, I go. While I try to add in a few things here and there that are strictly me, I never deviate from their story.

If I hit a block, I walk away. I don’t push the story because honestly, I don’t feel like it’s my story to tell, it’s theirs. When they get quiet, I ask questions. I talk to them. I argue with them. I go through everything with them because it works for me. I’ve never been easily embarrassed, so finding me standing alone in the store or in my truck at a light talking isn’t that uncommon.

That’s it. That’s my big secret. I listen to my characters and trust them completely, even when I don’t so much love what they have to say.

If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear your process! If you have any questions, please ask them! I’d love to do this once a week!

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