When my sweet twin mom friend Rachel from Fellow Passengers asked me to be a part of the #mywritingprocess blog hop, I automatically felt that I should jump at the chance. I figured it might actually be a great thing to pick apart my writing process step by step, because even when I try to think about it, I can’t seem to remember how I got from one blank page staring me in the face to a 93k word novel in a little over a year–all while raising twins.
Rachel knows about the stress of attempting to write with two little ones (and ANOTHER little one. Wow. You’re super mom, Rachel.) demanding your attention, and she writes about her process and how it works for her, here. I loved reading how she overcomes the mundaneness of life to find time to write about things that are important.
Even if I can inspire ONE other person that is in a similar situation as me to reach for their dreams, then it is worth it. And I hope that by sharing #mywritingprocess that I can encourage others to GO FOR IT.
Also, one of my favorite quotes that I have recently read is this:
“I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”- Flannery O’Connor
So, maybe, if anything, writing about my writing will help me realize how I write. (Phew.)
Which might be helpful. Because I DO have another book to write very soon.
1. What am I working on?
Right now, I’m working on the “not-so-fun” part of publishing a book. I’m finalizing drafts. And going through a roller coaster of emotions as I eagerly await July 1st for the release day. But since this isn’t really “writing” work, I’ll spare the details of that for another blog post.
Writing-wise right now, I’m working on outlining Book Two in the BLUE series. I have been researching South Africa in 1997 (which is when BLUE ends) and have come across even more shocking revelations and historic events that are sure to make book two just as exciting as book one. I am even pretty certain that I have a name for Book Two, but I’m not going to share that just yet.
So, currently working on lots of brainstorming, jotting down ideas and figuring out how to make things “work” with life after BLUE.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I like to think that my work is completely unique. Though, I’m sure that most writers like to think that as well. But, I have a few reasons why I think that my ideas and style of writing is very different.
BLUE is based around real-life historical events and true facts. Technically, my book is “Historical Fiction” but it could also be considered “Alternative History” because my characters are fictional, but they find themselves in the midst of real-life historic events. And I’m not just talking putting a character into a place in history. I’m talking about creating a story where my characters and story may have been involved in WHY these historical events happened. Many of my readers have had to Google things after reading my book because they weren’t sure which events were fictional and which were real. A few of my readers have said that they can picture future readers Googling “Are Humane Harvest Compounds Real?” while reading my book. And I think that my work is very unique to attempt to blur these lines.
One of the biggest “hurumphs” that I come across in the Young Adult Fiction world is that everything is too “Hunger Games”-y. Every idea has been explored. Everything is the same. There is nothing new under the sun. Every dystopia has already been explored, and there’s probably not going to be another original idea in the dystopian genre. I feel like my book is an example of why that isn’t true. I hope that others feel the same way.
I feel like my work is unique to the YA genre as well, because even reading some of the reviews for the blockbuster NYT Bestselling YA Novels like the Hunger Games and Divergent, many people have a real problem with the believability of the dystopia at hand. I personally LOVED the Hunger Games, and I’m totally a fangirl, but many people just can’t get past the WHY of the Capitol’s decision to have the Hunger Games. I mean, 75 years of child sacrifice and this is still going on? And there is JUST NOW an uprising? Some readers just can’t find this believable, which I can understand, although I can easily get past that idea with just a few little explanations.
I feel like BLUE is very unique that everything is very believable, and it isn’t set in the distant future as a POTENTIAL reality. BLUE doesn’t rely on the passage of time and a decline in the civilization of humanity to be believable. And I think that is very unique for its genre.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Simple. I want the Lord to use me to change the world. I want to have a significant impact on social justice. I believe that art influences culture, and I believe that GOOD art can change the world. Jesus Himself spoke in parables to relay messages to the world–He told stories. I want to tell stories that make people think. I want to tell stories that make people examine their own beliefs and challenge themselves morally. I want to write books that move people to action.
Oh, and Jesus didn’t always tell “Christian” stories. So, I don’t think I necessarily need to either.
4. How does my writing process work?
I think I have two “writing process lists.” My day-to-day list. And my “How to turn nothing into something list.”
I wake up early in the morning before my twins are awake, get a cup of coffee, open my computer and write until they wake up. (I am not the most disciplined at doing this, but it is my hope to eventually do this every day.) Sometimes I get 5 minutes. Sometimes I get 2 hours. Depends on how early I wake up and how late they sleep in. Currently (they are 14 months old) I get them up, change their diapers, feed them breakfast, do the dishes, and entertain them for a couple of hours until the “fussies” take over, and put them down for their nap. I re-heat my coffee, re-open my computer, and pick up where I left off. Write until they wake up. Get them up. Lunch. Play. Fussies. Nap. Make more coffee. Re-open computer. Pick up where I left off. Write through nap time again. Repeat until bedtime. And start again when they are down for the night. That’s about it.
Turning Nothing Into Something (How I wrote my book):
1. Brainstorming: I researched for weeks. Prayed. Worshiped. Researched. Picked character names. Researched. Prayed.
2. JUST WRITING ANYTHING: I stared at blank word processor page for an hour, until I just told myself “JUST DO IT.” And I just started spilling my thoughts out for chapter one. I didn’t even know how the book was going to end. I didn’t even know what was going to happen past the first few scenes. I just wrote. (I probably wouldn’t do this again, but somehow it worked for the first book.) I wrote the first 6 chapters this way. Then I got pregnant with twins while working full time plus leading worship part time. I stopped writing for a few months.
3. Outlining: Intermittently over the next few months, I would spend time mentally working through my story. At some point, I decided that I needed to outline my chapters. I told myself that I couldn’t write any more until I had every chapter outlined. So, I sat in bed with my computer and pieced together all the plot points into a chronological story, and outlined the chapters–outlining every chapter with a 2-6 sentence summary of WHAT was going to happen, and WHY, making sure that I included symbols. I worked on this for about 2 months until I felt that it all made sense. Sighed in relief.
4. Actually Writing Something: This was the easiest part for me. Every day, I challenged myself to finish half of a chapter. Some days I barely finished a paragraph. Some days I finished 3 chapters. I just wrote. No editing. No reading what I wrote. Just writing. I also had a very un-judgmental friend reading along as I went. At the end of every chapter I would copy and paste it into an e-mail and send it to her. She would read and tell me all the things she liked about it. I don’t remember her giving me much criticism, which was exactly what I needed at that point. I needed encouragement to KEEP GOING. I didn’t need criticism in this stage. It wasn’t perfect. It was just beginning. And she understood that, and was so helpful. Couldn’t have done it without her.
5. Revision/Beta-Reading: After I typed my last sentence, I immediately started looking for beta-readers to help me get through the first edit. I got about 8 of my closest friends signed-on to read as I edited and I set up a group on Facebook for all of my “beta-readers” to be able to talk to me about the book and talk to each other about it. Once we got into the story, it was SO encouraging to see them talking about MY story. To hear them raving about certain things that they loved. To hear them talking about how they COULDN’T WAIT for the next chapter. I don’t think I could have gotten through this edit without them.
Revision (round 1 editing) on the first chapters was so difficult. You have to write the entire novel to know your characters, and it was strange to go back and read the first few chapters. I kept laughing at my first few chapters and thinking “Anytha would NEVER say that.” I had to make the characters in the beginning the same characters that the reader would find at the end. I tweaked and twisted and added. I started this round of edits at 86k words, and ended at 92k. This round of edits took about 2 months.
Round 2: I read it all again. Added another thousand words. Fixed some more minor details. Then I sent it to a professional editor.
Round 3: Got it back from the editor. Read it all again. (mostly aloud) Fixed a few more minor things. Made sure everything sounded pretty enough.
6. Publishing: My friend Christy painted the painting for the cover. I went on 99designs and had a contest for the actual cover design, using the painting. I paid to have the manuscript professionally typeset. Got on Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing and submitted my files. Now, I eagerly await July first, holding my breath until I find the next mistake that I need to fix.
And that’s about it. That sounds pretty simplified, because I could write a blog post (or 5) on HOW I did each of those steps. Because, for me, it was all about just jumping in. Head-first. No reservations. I had no idea what I was doing, and I still don’t know if I did it right. But, all I know is that I have a book in my hands. And I think it’s pretty dang good for my first try.
Now, excuse me while I roll up my sleeves to do it all again…