So I’m partaking in this month’s instalment of Beautiful People for the first time! It’s a monthly meme all about writing. It’s hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further, and here is the original post. This month it’s all about our writing process which is what convinced me to jump in even though it’s late…
On my post on outlining, I talked about how my process sort of came to me organically. It worked for the first book I ever finished, and six books later I’ve more or less stuck with it. I’m not sure if it’s the best (for me) and I’ve definitely had to tweak some things here and there. I kind of scared that the day I try to change the way I write will be the day I stop, which is pretty irrational given how much I’ve come to love and need writing in the last two years. But whatevs. I’ll worry when my whole process just doesn’t work for a given book.
Just a few days ago, Buzzfeed published an article compiling pieces of advice from a ton of writers, and this quote from Laini Taylor stuck with me:
Ultimately, process is all about what works for any given writer. It’s just that figuring out how to cater to your particular need can get hard, and then excuses start cropping up and then you haven’t written for 73 years and your grandchildren get disappointed. What I’m trying to say is that I have no idea of what my process will look like in one or ten years (an dI really hope I still have one ten years from now), but I might as well document what it looks like in July 2017 at age 19. (Maybe 92 year old me will be in for a surprise (if the world or the internet haven’t end by then that is)).
1. How do you decide which project to work on?
Oh boy, have I been struggling with this lately. I recently wrote a four book series with a companion set in the middle, and then it was pretty straightforward. I finished one book and went to the following one chronologically because I had decided that I would start editing once they were all done.
Guess what happened when I finished this series I’d been working on for a year and a half?
EXISTENTIAL CRISIS TIME.
I have another series basically planned out from start to finish in my head and idea for a couple of standalones. But… editing.
I’ve been trying to juggled a read through of my old series to spot all major changes. I mean, I wrote the first one in December 2015 so I have forgotten a lot (this also means I get to laugh at my own jokes or rather seventeen-year-old me’s jokes). But I also need to be writing something new because WHAT IF I STOP AND THIS IS IT FOR ME?
Needless, to say managing the two has not been going well. It mostly has caused me to neglect the read through or use the little editing to avoid writing the hard parts of my current novel. At some point, I’ll also have to start that other series….
2. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
Finish finish who knows as I suck at editing. But finish a first draft which is what I mean when I say I’ve written five and a half books? It depends.
- My first novel was 80k words and it took me nearly six months to finish. To be fair, I was also on my last semester at a very competitive high school (#IBlife), so it’s kind of a miracle I stuck with this hobby at such a tumultuous period of my life.
- My fourth novel was 120k words and it took me two months and a week from the moment I started outlining to writing the last line. It was my first semester at university and I was finding the course load very light in comparison to my high school, so all my spare time went into writing and I had tons of funs writing that book.
- Lastly, my fifth novel was 130k words and it took me a bit over six months to write. To start with, I had just gotten back from a long trip where I had done no writing and all so getting back into the hang of things took me nearly a month. Then I had a good month there before my mental health plummeted suddenly and I was left unable to write a single word for three weeks. Then add a bit of dread because this was the last book in the entire series and I had grown attached to my babies and some had to die…
3.Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
Not really. How I get in the mood to write is by telling myself it’s time to write and procrastinating for the next two to seven hours (as I’m doing right now) before I finally feel guilty enough to start writing. The closest thing I have to a routine is putting on my writing playlists because I only do that right before I start for real.
4. What time of day do you write best?
I can write at any time really, but my routines vary depending on the time of the year. During my summer vacation, I sometimes spend the whole day writing. But during the school year, I like to use my writing as a reward of sorts. Once I’ve done all my homework and read and written blog posts, I get to lose myself in writing. Because I’m a mess this tends to happen after 9pm.
Once I tried to get up early and start my day off by writing. I was in a great mood for the first few hours of the day… and then I had nothing to look forward to! I just had a ton of homework and no motivation whatsoever. So I’m not a morning writer, that I can tell you.
5. Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
I have no idea of what my style even is? Six books in, and I’m still trying to figure it out. I know it’s not as poetic as Laini Taylor’s for example. My voice just isn’t like that.
I’d like to think Victoria Schwab? Because although her writing can be very pretty, it never fully takes over like Maggie Stiefvater’s or Laini Taylor’s, but who am I kidding… If I ever get my style to be as elegant as Schwab’s, I’ll be the happiest person ever.
6. Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
My attempts at writing go back a long time. I remember trying to start novels several times since 5th grade. I still have like 30 pages of a story I wrote with a friend when I was 11. I guess it partly is because I’ve always been in love with stories, and had a very active imagination.
Even when I was not writing I had this elaborate stories going on in my head. For months. They were fairly complex when it came to plot and character, but had no structure at all. Every day I would just imagine the next piece. But I would just start forgetting them and I’m a person that cannot stand things fading away. I guess I failed at writing before because I didn’t know how to translate this thing I did which came to me so naturally into words on page and all the rules and structures that came with that.
And I keep writing because I’ve never not revelled on that imaginative side of me. It brings me joy. It helps me make sense of things. By now, I feel like this imaginative thing I do is an intrinsic part of me, and writing is the way I get to hold on to it. So I’m not planning to stop any time soon.
7. What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
I kind of want to say the book I wrote in first person instead of third? Like, I had so much trouble nailing the character’s voice and then developing the other from her perspective. I realised I’ve come to rely too much on multiple PoVs which is why I know now I have to try to write in first person again.
Otherwise, exposition. I have so much trouble trying to explain things without coming across as super info-dumpy. That’s why my early novels have so many cases of small notes to myself saying YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN HOW THIS WORKS when I just decide to skip over the exposition and get to the good stuff. That said, on my current novel I have been trying to weave in the expository bits in a way that’s engaging for me and the prospective reader.
8. Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
I’ve been putting off the second series I have planned because it’s far more ambitious and complicated. A lot of new elements will come into play and I want to explore a lot more of the world than in my previous series which basically took place in a single city. I feel like I’m far more ready than I was a year ago, when I came up with the idea. But at the same time it’s so intimidating.
I’ve also been meaning for ages to get into poetry. Just to focus on the words and the ideas, for once. I think it would help me a lot as a writer, and I already love reading poetry. But delving into a new genre like that….
9. What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
I don’t think I set a specific set of goals for myself at the beginning of the year… like not in a list. But I do remember I wanted to achieve some things?
- I did want to finish my first series, and I’ve already done that.
- I also just wanted to keep writing regularly, which I’ve managed aside from the aforementioned stumbles.
- I also wanted to make my prose better? Which I’m not sure how much I’ve managed. I do know that my prose from December 2015 seems terrible to me now in a way that my current prose doesn’t. Who knows??? This is a perpetual goal, tbh.
10. Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!
I’ve a process??
(I’m still shocked that I’ve stuck with this long enough to develop a process, what can I say?)