* CONTACT COUNTDOWN #5 DIVERSITY IN KIDLIT
* BOOK REVIEW: WHITE SPACE by Ilsa J. Bick
* CONTACT COUNTDOWN #7: THE RECORD
First off, don't forget I'm giving away some digital downloads of CONTACT below!
I've had people ask me on occasion what my writing process is. I wish the answer was just straightforward and simple, or at least something I can explain easily. But the truth is writing for me is a constantly evolving experience.
When I wrote my first manuscripts about eight years ago, writing was a huge, drawn out ordeal. I spent months writing detailed outlines an summaries, had sticky notes everywhere, and spent as much as a year writing just the rough draft.
Since then I've honed the process a bit. I still use sticky notes on occasion, but not often. And instead of outlines, I keep a notebook full of my ideas and questions. That's where I develop my plots and character descriptions, etc. Instead of taking a year, I can crank out a rough draft in about four months now, though it isn't any easier than it used to be. Writing can be hard work.
The main challenge of finishing a first draft is, well, finishing it. I generally set a goal of writing 500 words per day and keep track of my progress on an Excel spreadsheet. I write that 500 words no matter what - whether they are simply awful and are sure to be cut later or not. I plow through it the way a race horse pushes itself to its limits to reach that finish line.
Then I put the manuscript away for at least a month, often much longer. I forget about it. Well, not entirely. I let the story stew in my brain while I tackle some other project. I've always got 3 or 4 manuscripts going. Eventually I come back the one on the back burner. Then I read through it, revise it for a few weeks. Read it again. Revise it again. Let someone else read it, and revise it again.
For me, the revision process is like crafting the finer features of a sculpture, while the first draft is like breaking off the large chunks of marble to get the general shape of what is to come. It's as if the image already exists in that marble and the artist is setting it free. Same with stories. Sometimes I feel like the stories are already there, but I have to capture them into actual words.
It is not unusual for me to write up to 12 drafts before I submit it anywhere. I try to make it as perfect as possible, though I never seem to get it exactly perfect. That's what the editors do. They add that final polish and sheen to the finished sculpture.
So there you have it, my writing process. If you're a writer, how do you do it? Of if you have any questions about how I wrote any of my books or what I'm working on now, go ahead. Shoot!