Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Writer’s Process

[[While I’m in the midst of moving to Tennessee, I’m repeating some blogs that originally appeared on a group blog I used to belong to, All Things Writing. I’ll report on our trek later in February.]]

Since this is one of those questions writers get asked a lot (e.g. What is your writing process?), I suppose I should punctuate it thusly: The Writers’ Process.

Aside: Another frequent question is: Where do your ideas come from? I guest blogged on that topic last year at and found out that writers DO like to answer that particular question. End of Aside.

This is an actual process, but not for writing
Maybe some like to answer this one, too, but not me! I don’t even know what it means. To me, processes apply to things like fees (processing fees) and film development. When I saw this definition at, my confusion lifted a bit.

1.a systematic series of actions directed to some end: to devise a process for homogenizing milk.
2.a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner: the process of decay.
3.Law .
a. the summons, mandate, or write by which a defendant or thing is brought before court for litigation.
b. the whole course of the proceedings in an action at law.
4.Photography . photomechanical or photoengraving methods collectively.
5.Biology, Anatomy . a natural outgrowth, projection, or appendage: a process of a bone.

See, these things are systematic and orderly. One is even continuous. For me, writing is not like that. Not a bit like that.

If I’m going to write a flash piece, I can sit down and write it. Then I can leave it until I remember about it again, then rework it. Repeat a few times and submit it somewhere. I’m not sure that could be considered a process.

For a longer length short story, I can think up an idea and start to go with it until I hit a snag. Then I either go off and do research that I may or may not ever need or use. Some time later I come back to it, if I still think it might work, and wrassle with it some more. When it seems done, I have to step away for a day or more. At least one more rewrite, maybe lots of rewrites, then if it still looks decent, I’ll submit it somewhere. This is too messy to be called a process.

Novels? Process? I do a first draft. During that time, which may be several months to a year, I quit a lot. I vow to write on it every day. I break that vow within a week. I make a vow to work on it 5 days a week. I break that vow the next week. I decide when I want to be finished and figure out how many words a day I need to write. That sometimes works.

This is all after or amongst the plotting “process”. I have actually evolved one of those after attempting to write 8 novels. It’s pretty involved and will be the subject of another blog post.

After the first draft, I begin edits. I have a loose procedure for this, too, and, again, a time deadline works well to keep me on track. That, too, will be a blog post. (Hey, I’m developing a process for generating blog post topics, at least.)

Stay tuned for the next developments in processes. Meanwhile, do YOU have process? Do you know what a writing process is?


  1. I love the honesty of this piece. The quits and broken vows so resonate with me.

    I'll be using this in my presentation Saturday, Kaye. Thank you sooooo much.