The Writing Process

Are you a planner or a pantser?

What’s a pantser, you ask? It’s the writer who can tell a good story without planning it out first. It’s not me. I tried to write a story ‘by the seat of my pants’ and it was horrible!

My stories are much better if I outline them first. I don’t outline them to death because I want the characters to be able to lead me and surprise me. But, I need to know where they are heading or else my stories tend to wander.

I like to outline on paper, usually outside, with some distractions around me. Then I go to my computer and start writing with the outline nearby. I still need some distractions while I write the first draft; I think it’s probably from my years as a news producer. I wrote for hours in the newsroom with scanners blaring and beeping, reporters coming and going; and lots of interruptions. During successive edits (and there are many) I like quiet, especially during the final edit. I like to focus all my attention on the story and try to find mistakes while around me it is quiet and still.

How many edits does a story go through? At least three. That’s why I like my computer. I save the story as a fresh draft and then start editing. I find that sometimes I like the previous draft and need to be able to go back to it. If I’m editing on that draft, oftentimes what I wrote previously is gone.

Don’t be afraid to write the first draft! It’s always unfit for reading. But it’s much easier to edit than create afresh. More on this in another post!

Just start! Sonja

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