Need to Change My Writing Process

Given the time it’s taking to revise my manuscripts, it’s pretty obvious my process kind of sucks. I know some writers approach their first draft as the “junk draft” so they aren’t pressured to produce a masterpiece right away, but I’ve given myself entirely too much freedom to suck.

With my first novel, some drafts actually made its way to several agent desks, but it didn’t get much further than that. A handful of agents bothered to read the MS before they realized the hooks of my first paragraphs weren’t replicated in the following chapters. According to most of my test readers, the interesting bits are in the latter half. Though it’s a fairly obvious inference, superior plotting would probably have made the thing more consistently interesting (hence my current desire to revise the whole thing).

The more I write and revise, the more I believe I should go full Plotter and stop being an unholy Plotter-Pantser hybrid. That’s to say, my novels could benefit from having the major plot points laid out from the get-go.

Anyway, I’ve been somewhat busy—with my non-writing career(s), traveling up the eastern seaboard, and spending quality time with the people in my life—but I won’t pretend I haven’t been lazy in revising my novels (e.g., I’m writing this post instead of working on the MSS). I need more discipline, and I need a new process.

Any suggestions?

writingwouldbegreat

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19 thoughts on “Need to Change My Writing Process

  1. The best thing I have done for keeping on point is to find an accountability partner.We have a video call once a month and check in on each other’s progress at least once a week if not daily. I’ve tripled my productivity as a result.

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  2. (1) Read it through. (2) Read it aloud. (3) read it backwards, looking at each sentence by itself, then read it aloud again. I do that over and over until I find myself putting in and taking out the same thing. That’s when I know I’ve done all I can do. In your case, I think I’d pay particular attention to how the paragraphs flow into each other. It’s the tiny steps forward that make it work as a whole.

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  3. I had the same problem with my first MS and my theory to remedy it in the next is outlining, friend. Holy batman, outlining. Now, I’m *already* an outliner, so that’s not the problem. The problem is, in creating my outline, I let myself be free to add filler and ignore character agency. When really, I should have revised that outline until it was a nigh perfect story, and then sat down to write. Some people might say “hey stop obsessing over planning and just write.” But I probably would have saved myself a year and a half of editing had I spent an extra 2-3 months on my planning.

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    • I agree with the “Outlining = Time-saving” theory. I’m currently working on an outline, which is more of a plot summary, and I want to feel that the pacing is incredibly strong before I start the (re-)writing process.

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  4. Pingback: Need to Change My Writing Process – So, I Read This Book Today

  5. This is hard, and something most of us would admit to. There’s always something else, isn’t there?
    I have had to discipline myself in a small way, one that still allows me ‘time off’. Every day, I decide to do just one thing (like edit two chapters) and I must do this before anything else. So far, seems to be working!

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  6. Personally, I think a certain level of panster-ness is a requirement, even if you have an outline. You know this major event happens, and that major event, but how something unfolds–how a conversation gets around to revealing or discussing something, or how a battle progresses, blow-by-blow–can be left to the moment of writing, giving it a natural, organic feel rather than an outlined “this-is-happening-because-I-say-it-will” feel. 🙂 But after you get to know your characters and what they would or wouldn’t do, then I think outlining in general is an absolute necessity, or the story will run away with you.

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    • You’re right. I like leaving the details to the moment I start writing the scene. And, of course, if a character seems inconsistent I’ll have to tweak the outline (or go back and change earlier scenes).

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  7. I’ve gone through a lot of the same. This time, I had the chance to do full-time writing, and man, did it make a difference.

    But a lot of people don’t get that chance. I recommend turning on airplane mode on writing time. Then if you get distracted, you have to decide if what you were going to do online is worth the effort to turn it back off and wait to connect again, or if it’s a time waster. I’m easily-distracted, but this cut it down a ton.

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    • I’ll take internet-isolation into consideration, but my non-writing work generally requires fast response times and communication. “Full-time” writing when my other work is in a lull would be great.

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  8. Pingback: The Writing Process: How Many Times should you revise? – D. Thomas Clark

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