What’s Your Process?

I found an interesting writing process survey on an Absolute Write Water Cooler forum the other day, and I thought it would be fun to post the questions and my answers here, so I can share with you…


What genre do you write? Contemporary YA. I’ve dabbled in paranormal.

How many books have you written? Four complete manuscripts. One will never see the light of day. One is only just finished and (I think) has lots of potential. Two are in various states of revision/reconsideration.

Are you published? *sigh* It is my dream to be traditionally published.


How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? Awhile. Plotting and coming up with “big ideas” is a challenge for me. Characters and setting and mood come easily, but I need at least a month or two to really think about the meat of what’s going to happen in the story.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? Quite a bit. I use Pinterest to keep track of images that inspire me and sites that are helpful for research. I do brief character sketches of my main characters, and I definitely outline.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc)? I really like Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet (it’s what I used for each of my manuscripts, with the exception of the first), though I’d like to try the Snowflake Method, as well as Nine Steps to Plotting Fiction. Once I have a basic outline of the plot’s highs and lows, I do a more detailed scene outline. Usually there are holes and I almost always end up adjusting and adding new scenes as I go, but for me, starting to actually write is far less intimidating when I have a road map.


How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Three-ish before a draft is CP-worthy, then another before it’s ready to send to my agent (or, previously, to begin querying). Then, at least one more revision to incorporate my agent’s notes.

How long does it take you to write a first draft? I’ve written a first draft in a month, and I’ve written a first draft in a year. Depends, I guess.

How long do revisions usually take you? Months. At least.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? Not substantially different, usually, but they’re always stronger in all areas of story, character, and texturizing after I’ve gotten outside feedback.

If you decide to use this survey to share your writing process, link your post in the comments… I’d love to check it out! 


16 responses to “What’s Your Process?

  1. I may use this later! I enjoyed the questions. Thanks!

  2. ooh fun! I may have to do this on my blog when i get back from my short hiatus

  3. This was fun to read! I enjoy hearing about different writers’ processes. So far, the process of writing my first and second manuscripts has been different. I outlined a lot with the first, and only had a few things planned before writing the second, so I’ve been pantsing a lot. I also love Blake Synder’s beat sheet for outlining, as well as Dan Wells’ 7-point plot system.

    • I’m in awe of people who can begin drafting without outlining first. I wish my head worked so freely, but nope. I need the structure of an outline. I just looked up the 7-Point Plot System and it sounds similar to the Beat Sheet. Perhaps I should try a combination of the two next time? Thanks, Ghenet!

  4. Miss Alexandrina

    Great post. I love the Absolute Write Cooler – a well of knowledge about writing and beyond. 🙂

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  6. MWAH!! I totally played 😉 ALSO. Blake Snyder?? I want EVERY NEW AUTHOR TO READ THIS, lol. I would have gotten SO much better SO much faster with that.

    • Same! I learned so much while reading his book. The thing is, it’s all fairly simply stuff, but the way he lays it out is just this huge AH HA moment. Can’t wait to check out your post, lady!

  7. Blake Snyder is pretty much a genius. For a long time I would read everything I could about plot structure, just trying to pound it into my head, but after I read Save the Cat I finally got a really good grip on it. He makes it super easy to plot things.

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  10. I am definitely with you on the “should never see the light of day” manuscripts. You sound way more organized/planned as a writer than I am! I’m more go with the flow 🙂 I love this idea though, just posted my own!