After writing seriously for 5 years and finishing 12 books, you’d think I’d understand and accept my writing process, wouldn’t you?
After all, I’ve a) had a lot of time to get used to it, and b) I’ve practised it a lot.
But the reality is: I don’t like my writing process.
Every time I start a book, I secretly tell myself it’ll be different this time. At the same time, though, I’m telling myself to love my writing process and enjoy the journey. Be yourself blah blah. I look like Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove…a little opinion on each shoulder.
In a nutshell, this is how my process pans out for each book.
1. Think of idea.
2. Either let idea fester for several weeks or start on it the same day I thought of it.
3. Write an extremely and incredibly bad first draft.
4. Don’t look at book for 6 weeks.
5. Then rewrite every. single. sentence.
Try as hard as I will, every single book of mine follows that process. I can’t skip a step. I can’t merge any steps. And believe me, I’ve tried.
Why don’t I like it? I’m a very sad and bitter perfectionist who’s had to learn that first drafts will never be perfect. The quicker I churn out a first draft, the better. It doesn’t matter what I blurt onto the page, because I will change each sentence. I will! Even if I don’t intend to.
For me, first drafts are just detailed outlines. They have conversations and plot twists, but they’re bare bones.
But I look at my writerly friends…and I silently envy them. They write first drafts that are acceptable to look at. Oh gosh, what I wouldn’t give for that! I don’t even let Mime see my first drafts. They’re that embarrassing.
I read author’s blogs and interview questions…where they basically wrote a book and got it published and they’re brilliant!
Every time I finish a first draft I look at it with mournful despair and hate it. I bury it the deep dark files of my laptop and hope either a) it disappears or b) it modifies itself into a glorious book so I don’t have to. Eventually I stop hating it quite so much and that’s when the complete overhaul happens. (It took 4 months to feel like rewriting Boybots. It’s almost been a year since I wrote Six and Wild Things.)
What brought on this bout of first-draft jealousy? Two weeks ago I finished my 12th book, currently titled: 52 Dresses Not For Dancing. It’s a middle-grade (or junior fiction) book about photography, dresses, cake and death. Ha! You didn’t see that coming did you? It’s only 35,000-words and it. is. horrible. I’m so disappointed. In my mind it was beyond brilliant. It was picturesque and funny and would have made a great movie. What? Every write thinks that at some point. I knew I’d get a messy first draft, but it doesn’t stop me from loathing it right now. And being jealous of those people who first-draft so well.
Someday I’ll quit whinging and accept that my writing process is like it is! It’s not bad. It’s probably not completely abnormal either. And it is mine, which means I should own it and wear it like a shiny sticker.
But you know what? I also don’t give myself too hard of a time for still wishing I wrote differently. A few years ago, I wrote perfectly fine first drafts. Then I stopped being able to write. The muse stopped flowing. I couldn’t get a single word out. It was devastating and, frankly, scary! My first drafts used to be a lot tighter before my End of All Writing Things. So I think, secretly, I’m thinking back to those days where I just pumped out happy words and had no experience in writing at all.
The more experience you have, the harder it can be to write sometimes.
I might never have the happy-first-draft writing process that I used to have. But at least my books turn out semi-acceptable at some point in my process. And that’s what counts.
Oh! And before you go…because I know I’ve got you thinking about Emperor’s New Groove now. HERE. Look what you can do.
Cait celebrated the conclusion of her 12th novel by going to bed. Very exciting. She didn’t even eat chocolate…which goes to show just how much writing she’d been doing instead of sleeping. She plans to let 52 Dresses Not For Dancing fester for fifty million light years while she plots a new novel. Yup. That’s how she rolls. Writing begets inspiration. She’s thinking of a dystopian…