Writing Processes: Different Strokes


If you didn't stop by yesterday, well, why not? Sierra did a terrific post on online presence. But anyway, for this week and next I'm having my fabulous writerly buddies provide us with their insights since I am out of pocket.

Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to my fellow romance writer and bestest bud from my local RWA group, Jamie Wesley. She helped me survive my first RWA Nationals this year and (even though she may not realize yet) is now obligated to be my conference BFF from now on. :) 

She's going to talk to us about her writing process. And I think this is a great post because it really shows how everyone has to find their own way on what works for them. Her method is COMPLETELY opposite mine, but just as effective. So I think it's important for us each to realize that despite all the advice out there, you have to find your own way.

So, now I'll hand it over to Jamie...
I want to thank Roni for inviting me to invade her blog today. Funny story - I met her in January at our local RWA chapter meeting. Since this was my first RWA meeting, I was super nervous. However, I made the brilliant decision to sit next to Roni and eventually worked up the courage to introduce myself. Somewhere along the line, I think I asked her if she had a website. She said, “I blog” in a shy, casual way. Being the good Internet stalker that I am, when I went home, I looked up her blog. My mouth dropped open when I discovered she had (at the time) 500 followers. I felt like I was the guy in Notting Hill who doesn’t recognize the movie star Julia Roberts plays. 
Recently, I completed the first draft of my second manuscript and thought I’d talk about my writing process and get everyone’s thoughts on it. Now, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the pros and cons of being a plotter or a pantser. Though I fall closer to the pantser line, that’s not what I want to discuss. Instead, I want to focus on my method when I plant my butt in the chair or, more likely, my bed, with my computer.
By the time I get to the point where I’m ready to write, I’ve thought of a story idea and have a grasp on the main characters’ backstories and motivations. I have about five scenes in my head begging to be put on paper. These scenes assure me that I do have a workable, sustainable idea. I open a Word document and I’m off and running.
As I write, I follow two basic credos.

I don’t edit as I write.
I can’t write and edit at the same time. Well, I suppose I could, but I believe it would adversely affect my pace. I write rough. In the first draft, I’m more interested in getting the action and any witty dialogue that pops into my head down. I don’t worry about whether or not the prose sounds pretty because 1. It doesn’t and 2. I know I can fix it later.
-          I don’t get distracted with edits. I would spend the rest of my life making sure chapter one was perfect if I let myself.
-          The story is always fresh in my mind. I’m constantly moving forward and making progress.
-          I have A LOT to fix in the revising/editing stage. If I edited as I went along, I’d have a much cleaner first draft.
I write scenes as they come to me.
I don’t force myself to write chronologically. Because I am a (mostly) pantser, sometimes I don’t know what happens next. However, it’s not uncommon to have an amazing scene that takes place three chapters down pop up in my head. When this happens, I allow myself to write it even though I’m not there yet.
-          Strangely enough, this method allows me to connect the dots easier. If a character’s state of mind has changed from chapter five to chapter eight, it’s often easier for me to work backwards than to try to figure out immediately what happens next.
-          If I can’t figure out what comes next, I freeze and freak myself out. If I skip ahead, I don’t break my momentum.
-          Since I wrote this manuscript all in one Word document, it was a little jarring to review it when the scenes were all out of order. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to stop and put them in order to get my head screwed on straight.
-          There’s a chance that scenes won’t work, and the story doesn’t come together like I envisioned. That didn’t happen with this manuscript, but it was a concern.
One other thing – if I do have scenes pop into my head, while I’m writing another scene, I’ll jot a quick note at the end of the manuscript, so I don’t lose it and come back to it later.
I admit my process might be a little easier for me because I’m targeting Harlequin’s Kimani Press Romance line, which requires 55,000 word manuscripts. If I were writing a full-length single title, I might not be able to keep all the details straight in my head and would probably benefit from editing while I write.
So there you have it. That’s how I do what I do. Am I crazy?
What about you? What’s your process? Do you write and edit at the same time? Do you write chronologically? Has your method evolved over time?

Thanks, Jamie!  And y'all don't forget to stop by her blog and give her some love. 

**Today's Theme Song**
"This is How We Do It" - Montell Jordan
(player in sidebar, take a listen)