One of the things I constantly get asked about is my writing process. Every writer has one – their systematic way of getting their works done, but I can’t say that I have a specific process.
Which in itself could be seen as a process.
The one thing I know for sure is that like most writers, I have found myself relating to way more memes on writing that I should (especially the ones taking a shot at a writer’s procrastination tendencies).
The truth is that things are never really a straight line when it comes to my writing, but I do have some kind of formula to how my works eventually make it to the public eye:
1. The Idea
An idea can hit me at any time, at any place. I could be having a conversation with someone and have an idea hit me mid sentence. What usually follows is me scrambling for my notebook to get the basic idea down.
I also tend to get ideas from things I watch and read. I pick up elements and sort of ask myself, ‘if I were to write something like this, how differently would I write it?’
Sometimes a story idea stays in my mind for some minutes, and if I can’t build on it, I let it go. The successful ideas lead to what I call ‘The Voices’, whereby the characters start to build themselves and their lives up. This normally determines what genre the book will be.
2. The Title
This one can be a little hard for me simply because I hate obvious titles. Obvious titles are so many already that it’s very easy for one’s story to get lost amongst others. I always try to go for a different kind of title, but I find myself having to be too careful because a unique title doesn’t always guarantee that the book will stand out.
It is after all about the content – but a title’s power to bring in readers shouldn’t be downplayed.
3. The Cover
A fun fact to know is that I make all my covers. I usually make the cover before I even write a single word of the book. This task can range from super easy, to extremely difficult, depending on what I want the cover to communicate.
It’s easy to want to stick to the basics – a story about a hot man should have a hot man on the cover, but again, I try to avoid such as much as I can.
My covers either speak to a specific scene of the story that I’ve come up with in my head, or they are an interpretation of how I see the story as a whole.
4. The Main Characters
More often than not, the first characters I tend to think of are the leading lady and man, followed by their best/closest friends. From then on, I’ll look into who their closest family members are, and then leave it at that.
I don’t like to lay out a whole character list simply because of how often I change my mind. Instead, I then move on to characteristics and surroundings. What do they look like? What do they do? What kind of personality do they have? The Voices basically start to become their own people.
I’ve also been accused of choosing complex names for my characters. While I agree that common names are easier to remember, I like to explore other cultures, not only through my characters’ race, ethnicity, culture etc. but by their names too. There are so many names in the world for us to keep recycling the same names because “it’s easier to say/remember”.
5. The Plot
For my stories, the formula is almost always straightforward – I have a beginning and an ending, or I only have the middle with no idea how to get there, and where to go from there.
Most of my stories follow the first kind of process. I’ll have my explosive beginning and end, and then work my way from that. My plot is never the same everyday because I don’t put it down.
I’ll admit that I am not a consistent writer, and that’s why I don’t put my plots on paper because I forget. I have random bursts of ideas for different stories, and if I don’t run with the idea when I have it, chances are it will either be forgotten by the time I write again, or it will have taken on a new direction altogether.
When it comes to the stories where I have the middle and not the beginning or the end, chances are that I was watching a movie/series and something happened that convinced me that I could write something similar according to that one thing. I then either build from that and see where it takes me.
6. The Speed
Like I said, I’m an inconsistent writer, which means that a lot of my followers have been waiting for updates I have not written. I feel terrible about this much, but at the end of the day, life happens and there’s only one of me.
On average, I write ten page chapters (on Word), which takes me about three hours for one chapter – and that’s only when the ideas are really flowing. It can take me up to four months to finish a chapter simply because it took that long for the dots to connect.
It’s frustrating not only for the readers who are waiting for updates, but for me as well. It’s not like I like not updating, but I promised myself I’d never rush myself and release work that I’m not proud of simply to keep people happy. If anything, logic says releasing crap may very well upset people.
7. The Research
I like to be as factual as possible, while other times I’m just like screw it! While I’m a fiction writer above all, I understand that readers would like to find themselves relating to the fictitious world I create.
Which means Google probably thinks I’m nuts.
The ads I sometimes find on my social media feeds have me shook, until I remember the algorithm built by my all over the place book research. It’s a mess, a beautiful mess that I think is fitting simply because that’s what’s going on in the mind of a writer.
8. The Plot Twist/Cliffhanger
Probably my favourite kind of torture comes from a good plot twist or cliffhanger. I rarely praise my own writing, but I will definitely praise my ability to come up with plot twists and cliffhangers any day.
I’ve seen some writers get discouraged by readers, especially when it comes to cliffhangers, but I simply can’t be moved. Aside from keeping the reader on their toes, it keeps them coming back, and isn’t that the ultimate goal?
9. The Time
I am as nocturnal as they come. I get my best work, whether it’s writing or designing, done at night. Because of this, my sleeping patterns are pretty much in shambles. Currently, my cycle is pretty much Monday-Friday, wake up, work, nap, wake up, work, nap, and repeat.
Don’t even get me started about the weekend.
Why do I write at night? Peace – the house is most peaceful then. There’s no one sending me to do anything, I have no chores to attend to, normal people are asleep which means my phone is quiet, and don’t judge me, but coffee also tastes better for me at this time.
10. The Edit
I don’t edit my works.
At least not the first time round.
And definitely not for everything I put up.
Aside from the brutal truth being that I just don’t have the time, I find that most of the time, I don’t change anything. There’ll be a typo or grammatical error here and there, but I rarely change things that I’ve put down.
If anything, going forward, the story has to revolve around what I’ve put down and put up.
This only serves to be problematic when I write stories I’ve taken long breaks from. My refusal to edit can sometimes cause plot holes which then force me to have to re-read what I’ve written to patch things up. It sounds like a mess, and that’s probably because it is exactly that.
Writing is a process that most writers will agree is rarely a straightforward one. I have a total of nine completed books, out of the hundred covers/ideas I have. That is 9% of the entire list.
I wish I could say I’m ashamed, but my writing process just doesn’t allow me to be. I write multiple books at once because that’s the only way I can remain sane what with all the voices in my head.
Life happens, and with every new day, I try to adult in the best way I can. Ultimately, that means I sometimes don’t have the time to do what I love, but it’s not the end of the world. I eventually get around to it, and in the same spirit, I will eventually finish my books.
I at least have faith in that much.