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Stevie

Your creative process of writing.

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Greetings.

 

I have made a few attempts at writing, but I'm not able to decide whether to write in first or third person. The attempts I've made has also gotten me stuck at about 1000 words, even though I got a full plot. I would be interested to hear what your creative process looks like, and how you decide to split up a story in chapters. Do you write at home, do you listen to music while you do it? Do you carry around a dictaphone or a notebook? How do you write?

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Iv started writing two books in my laptop but never get past the first two chapters, it's a shame as the idea in my head sounds great but as I write it just never feels right. One day....

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4 minutes ago, carlospie said:

Iv started writing two books in my laptop but never get past the first two chapters, it's a shame as the idea in my head sounds great but as I write it just never feels right. One day....

 

Why are you writing two at once?

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I think of an interesting scenario and work from there, making up everything else as I go along. No planning or structure or chapters or characters or anything before I start. I keep writing until I get bored or the story or characters seem to naturally run their course, or until something dramatic, and miserable which feels like an ending happens. I always write in third person because I don't like first person. 

 

Everyone works differently. My method rarely results in finished pieces, but they're often quite gripping when it does. Try different things to see what works for you, but trust your gut. What feels like the best way to write to you? When you were set writing tasks at school what felt like the easiest, most natural way to write?

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On 31/07/2017 at 13:23, Broker said:

When you were set writing tasks at school what felt like the easiest, most natural way to write?


Writing it in my head first, because deformities made my hands hurt using pens. I would get into trouble for appearing to be daydreaming, and then pen down what I head-created in the space of one minute to get the pain over with... and everyone was like... how the fuck did you do that daydreamer?

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3 hours ago, centurion said:


Writing it in my head first, because deformities made my hands hurt using pens. I would get into trouble for appearing to be daydreaming, and then pen down what I head-created in the space of one minute to get the pain over with... and everyone was like... how the fuck did you do that daydreamer?

 

Is typing any easier? Is there good dictation software?

 

If that's how you work best then divide a story up into chunks that you can dream up then cram them down onto a page :) 

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18 hours ago, Broker said:

 

Is typing any easier? Is there good dictation software?

 

If that's how you work best then divide a story up into chunks that you can dream up then cram them down onto a page :) 


Typing was always easier so I harassed teachers at school I could go use the computers to do neat work, but of course loads of kids wanted to copy me and spent it web surfing... so it became diplomatically difficult. But after about 8 hours of intense typing, the top of my hands seize up. Doesn't sound like something that would affect many people, but caused problems when I worked at a software company; you generally do get into intense typing sessions and lose sense of things.

As for your advice, I've done that before. The advantage is you can edit your own work very easily, like some sort of hyper-fast video editor from Minority Report with nothing to slow you down but your own willpower and tiredness. Even now I tend to think one sentence ahead, so it isn't quite live typing.

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On 24/07/2017 at 02:48, Stevie said:

Greetings.

 

I have made a few attempts at writing, but I'm not able to decide whether to write in first or third person. The attempts I've made has also gotten me stuck at about 1000 words, even though I got a full plot. I would be interested to hear what your creative process looks like, and how you decide to split up a story in chapters. Do you write at home, do you listen to music while you do it? Do you carry around a dictaphone or a notebook? How do you write?

 

*casts Necromancy on thread*

 

I've been writing and being published for a fair few years now, have been shortlisted for a several awards, eben included in Best ff Anthologies, and have a very understanding publisher whose patience is wearing thin at me blowing through the second annual deadline of the novel I promised (I have reasons), and I feel confident enough to answer 'what's your process' with a solid "Fucked if I know".

 

Although I'm guessing I understand why you're aksing. Were asking, I suppose, it eing 10 months ago. I've geon through several approahces to how I write over the years, and the process is still evolving, and I guess will always be evolving.

 

I've tried preplotting, laying out every item that happens in a story up front, pantsing and everything in between. I've found that, for me, a broad strokes outline to begin with works best.  IE, "There's a bloke, he's a X in a Y land. A happens t o him, so he does B, this sets of C, leading D until eventually E" and then I go from there. The key is that Anything can change along the way, and to accept that, but when something does change I never go abck and rewrite everything to accept that change, just make a note of it and move on. If you insist on going back you will never finish anything.

 

And then there's short stories and novellas, which I tend to approach by having a basic idea I want to explore, pointing my fingers at the end and going for it.

 

Of course, that's just me, and as always YMMV.

 

And the reason my publisher is still waiting for a novel two eyars after I said I'd get it in, I signed the contract just before I moved into a newly built house, had a third child, and started a very demanding day job. I've actually written the bugger, but it's supposed to be a YA book, with a max of 60k words. I've worked with the publisher alot though, so I was given leeway up to 80k. Which does not help the 120k monstrosity I have on my harddrive. Which isn't yet finished in first draft. I'm currently wondering if I should try andf cut it down, or try and convince them it's a duology.

 

Anyway, I mainly write in the place below:

 

interioMelbtrains.jpg

 

I have three kids, a marriage, a full time job and hobbies. My main writing times come on the train to and from work, if I can geta  seat, and lunch breaks, if I'm not swamped. I aim for 250 words on each train journey and 500 at lnuch, but that's a minimum, and will usually go for 300 / 600. It's a struggle finding what writing time is available to you, but when you get that time, guard it with your life. I'm lucky I have an understanding wife who supports me and, more importantly, earns a lot more than me. The deal is once when she gets her next promotion I'm going to cut down to part time or quit for a while and just write. It will be bliss.

 

Anyway, hope that helped some.

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I came along to this section to shamelessly plug my new book and ask if anyone would like a free review copy before it is published at the end of this month.

 

However, I had to reply to your thread. As Mikes suggests writing is more about persistence than inspiration. Inspiration may get you through the first few chapters but it won't see you finish the project off. Waiting for your muse to help you out won't work either. Best advice I can give, which helped me, is to set aside some time every day, even if it is just 30 minutes, and write as much as you can. You need to see it as a job rather than a hobby if you want to finally get a proper book finished. And that's just the first draft. Then comes then editing and refining stage. Expect this to take at least as much time.

 

I tend to write from 10am to 12 noon every week day, then maybe another hour in the evening, 11pm to 12 midnight. Three hours a day usually gives me about 1,500 decent words a day.

 

It can be a slog at times but so is brick laying. However, the feeling you get when you finally finish your book is immense. Then you can start shopping it around publishers or self-publishing it yourself.

 

Another good tip for motivation is to go on a writer's forum where you can critique each other's work.

 

Let me know if you require any help.

 

And if anyone here would like a free review copy of my book please let me know. I will post a description in a separate thread soon.

 

Dan

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Yeah it does feel a bit more of a job than a hobby. I sort of go "Right then sit down type away for about an hour and do what you can." Generally I'll hit over a thousand on a good day (like today for example) or just a few hundred on a bad one (when my mind goes to mush). Staying motivated is tricky though, especially when you are writing a whole group of books together to publish as a series and you don't have a publisher/agent. 

 Someone I talk to on twitter (Barry J Hutchison writer of the space team books) churns out around 5000 words a day which is a crazy amount. It's how he's pumped around about 15 books in two years. For me it's about 3 and a bit in around seven years (although they are very, very long). There have also been rewrites etc during that time. 

 Also, fuck editing. I hate editing. It takes bloody ages. 

 

As for how I write, well I've covered this a lot before in my book topics on this part of the forum but I generally start with an idea or an image and let it go from there. The one I am currently writing now started with me just thinking up the stupid idea of "What happened if Aliens stole someones legs?" and then thinking "Well why would they do that?" It amused me so that's how it began. First book began with the idea of "What if someone was conned into coming out of retirement to do a job they hated?" Second was "What if someone was punished for a crime by being forced to endure a life of utter insignificance?" The third was "Let's put our heros in a position of having to save the universe by stopping world war three during the 1980's" 

 It's basically just ideas and then build a continuing story around them, the ideas may seem different from each other but they link together and take the characters on journey.   

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In my limited experience, it depends entirely on what I'm writing and why.

 

A few years ago, I began writing naughty books to sell on Amazon's Kindle store. I was doing it purely to sell copies and make money - I have no passion for that sort of writing. It worked, too. At the height of me doing it, I was making about £500 a month, and I had a plan to build that up to thousands. I never did, though. Instead I went back to work full time and haven't written any in a couple of years. It still makes me beer money every month though.

 

The way I did that writing was purely by formula. I trawled through the Kindle store's bestseller lists to identify books that seemed to be selling well but was a bit niche (figuring that the more mainstream stuff would be an overcrowded genre). Then I bought the twenty top books in that niche and analysed them.

 

I broke the books (they're stories really, not novels) down into average word count, average scene count, average length of a sex scene, average numbers of sex scenes in the books,  which perspective was most common, and so on. Then I came up with a formula to follow based on that, and wrote my stories to that formula, making sure I kept to it precisely. I wrote those using the formula, basically writing a character profile for each character, a story outline, then a scene outline (complete with wordcount) which detailed everything that would happen. Then I took my laptop to the local library and wrote there, listening to instrumental music and using the Pomodoro method.

 

Because I didn't really have to be all that creative and I didn't worry much about redrafting or anything, I could knock out an 8,000 word story in about 8 hours.

 

It's still incredibly satisfying, looking on Amazon and seeing the money you've made from sales, and knowing that people are buying and enjoying something you've read, but it was never very fulfilling. Profitable, especially since it's had such a long tail of income, but not fulfilling.

 

Contrast that to the few short stories in other genres I've written and self-published. I am vastly more proud of them than of any of the dirty stories I've written, and think they're objectively much better. Yet they've sold a handful of copies each. If I was to judge them on the income I've made from them, they're huge flops.

 

I wrote those (and the novel I'm a chapter away from finishing which I'm writing for my daughter) with a much looser idea of what would happen. Mainly a vague shape of the story in my head, with the main lynchpin incidents fairly clear, but allowing the story to go wherever it wanted for the most part.

 

I normally write in two-hour chunks, in which I'm able to get down anything from 500 words to 3000 (which will need thoroughly editing and redrafting). I write mostly on weekends, as I'm usually too tired to think when I get home from work. Sometimes I manage to get an hour or so of writing done in the evenings, but usually it's weekends. I get up, see my children for an hour or two and then disappear for a couple of hours before lunch. Then I do the same before dinner, from about 4pm to about 6pm.

 

It's tough, and I wouldn't say it's particularly fun when I'm writing. But when I'm doing it, it does feel like something I was meant to do, rather than a hobby such as gaming, which feels like something I enjoy doing.

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On 10/07/2018 at 10:41, Mikes said:

Anyway, I mainly write in the place below:

 

interioMelbtrains.jpg

 

I have three kids, a marriage, a full time job and hobbies. My main writing times come on the train to and from work, if I can geta  seat, and lunch breaks, if I'm not swamped. I aim for 250 words on each train journey and 500 at lnuch, but that's a minimum, and will usually go for 300 / 600. It's a struggle finding what writing time is available to you, but when you get that time, guard it with your life. I'm lucky I have an understanding wife who supports me and, more importantly, earns a lot more than me. The deal is once when she gets her next promotion I'm going to cut down to part time or quit for a while and just write. It will be bliss.

 

Anyway, hope that helped some.

 

In September I changed jobs. I needed to, because I was becoming more and more depressed in my previous job for a number of reasons and I needed out. The last straw was sitting through a two hour meeting while senrior managers doscussed exactly how far we could screw prisoners over their access to telephones call without breaking the law.

 

Anywa, as luck would have it the moment I googled 'ethical jobs' one popped up that had been posted that day and now I'm sitting in it, actually making positive difference to the local environment.

 

I have reasons for posting this....

 

... because having to change job means I no longer get that nice train journey to write in, and my lunch break has also gone. And while I love my new job it's demanding, and I have three small boys, so by the end of the day when I've finally fed, bathed and gotten them all to bed I'm exhausted and am in no mood for writing.  It doesn't help that I'm a morning person, and that's when most of creativity fires up.

 

Anyway, writing stalled after that, until I had a sit down with my wife to talk about it.

 

in the end we agreed she would shoulder a lot of the morning routine in helping getting the kids up and ready (luckily the older two are able to do alot for themselves by this point EVEN IF WE HAVE TO TELL THEM THE FLOOR ISN'T A HAMPER), and also she would field them one evening a week, leaving me time to go to the tate library after work and write for the evening.

 

It's bloody bliss. and I've probably gotten more done in the past two weeks than the previous two months.

 

More over, we also talked about the possibility of me going down to three days a week at work. I'm still in the process of automating some of what I do in this new role, and she's in line for a promotion soon that would pick up the slack of my last time, but this would allow me two days to write, and also to be around the kids more, which is of course ore important.

 

ANyway, just chiming in with the struggles of finding creative personal time while still adulting.

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On 28/07/2018 at 15:11, Scribblor said:

In my limited experience, it depends entirely on what I'm writing and why.

 

A few years ago, I began writing naughty books to sell on Amazon's Kindle store. I was doing it purely to sell copies and make money - I have no passion for that sort of writing. It worked, too. At the height of me doing it, I was making about £500 a month, and I had a plan to build that up to thousands. I never did, though. Instead I went back to work full time and haven't written any in a couple of years. It still makes me beer money every month though.

 

The way I did that writing was purely by formula. I trawled through the Kindle store's bestseller lists to identify books that seemed to be selling well but was a bit niche (figuring that the more mainstream stuff would be an overcrowded genre). Then I bought the twenty top books in that niche and analysed them.

 

I broke the books (they're stories really, not novels) down into average word count, average scene count, average length of a sex scene, average numbers of sex scenes in the books,  which perspective was most common, and so on. Then I came up with a formula to follow based on that, and wrote my stories to that formula, making sure I kept to it precisely. I wrote those using the formula, basically writing a character profile for each character, a story outline, then a scene outline (complete with wordcount) which detailed everything that would happen. Then I took my laptop to the local library and wrote there, listening to instrumental music and using the Pomodoro method.

 

Because I didn't really have to be all that creative and I didn't worry much about redrafting or anything, I could knock out an 8,000 word story in about 8 hours.

 

It's still incredibly satisfying, looking on Amazon and seeing the money you've made from sales, and knowing that people are buying and enjoying something you've read, but it was never very fulfilling. Profitable, especially since it's had such a long tail of income, but not fulfilling.

 

Contrast that to the few short stories in other genres I've written and self-published. I am vastly more proud of them than of any of the dirty stories I've written, and think they're objectively much better. Yet they've sold a handful of copies each. If I was to judge them on the income I've made from them, they're huge flops.

 

I wrote those (and the novel I'm a chapter away from finishing which I'm writing for my daughter) with a much looser idea of what would happen. Mainly a vague shape of the story in my head, with the main lynchpin incidents fairly clear, but allowing the story to go wherever it wanted for the most part.

 

I normally write in two-hour chunks, in which I'm able to get down anything from 500 words to 3000 (which will need thoroughly editing and redrafting). I write mostly on weekends, as I'm usually too tired to think when I get home from work. Sometimes I manage to get an hour or so of writing done in the evenings, but usually it's weekends. I get up, see my children for an hour or two and then disappear for a couple of hours before lunch. Then I do the same before dinner, from about 4pm to about 6pm.

 

It's tough, and I wouldn't say it's particularly fun when I'm writing. But when I'm doing it, it does feel like something I was meant to do, rather than a hobby such as gaming, which feels like something I enjoy doing.

 

Have you used your real name as author for all your books.  Do you worry about "brand" and mixing  genres?   

 

 

@Mikes @Scribblor @pulsemyne plus others in the thread. What software do you use to organise your ideas?

 

For a while I wrote reviews  on Wordpress and just vomited it out and then went back over and over again refining but I've seen stuff like scrivener where you can plan out your characters and story arcs separate from the story itself.   What do you use?   Is there something out there that has Windows/IOS app you can use?  I'd imagine having easy access to your stories to edit and suchlike anywhere would be great. 

 

 

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I use scrivener for longer pieces. Basically it's an organisational tool. It saves chapters/scenes and notes as separate files abd hives you a UI to easily move them around.

 

It's handy, but far from essential, and I've sometimes used a separate excel sheet to track various arcs.

 

Would i recommend it? Yes, but it won't help you write, only organise.

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I don't use my real name for the rude books, but I do for everything else.

 

I use Scrivener for all my writing, as I like the way it helps with formatting and organising. But as Mikes said, it doesn't help you write, just organise. It's not essential, and you can just as easily do the actual writing on Word or any other program you like.

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I use Scrivener for writing. I think what's really upped my game lately is buying an iPhone for the first time and having Scrivener on that as well, and being able to sync the same project on my MacBook via Dropbox. I can tap out a few hundred words in my lunch hour at work, and no-one has any idea what I'm doing. They probably just think I'm browsing Facebook like everyone else.

 

My writing method is what I suppose you'd call "pantsing", a term I'm not keen on as it implies writing without any thought. Whereas I think a lot about what to write next. And, if the story takes me to a place where I have to change something earlier on, I actually go back and change it whilst writing the first draft. Something which is usually not recommended, with the best of intentions, in most writing books. But I do it anyway and it seems to work. I find Scrivener's snapshot tool invaluable for this, so if I make big changes I always have little backups at the chapter level.

 

As for outlining, I do it as I go. I write a brief sentence or two for each chapter on a piece of paper next to my computer, so if I ever leave the writing for more than a week, I can quickly skim the outline and get fired up again without too much hassle.

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On 01/06/2019 at 08:04, Monkeyboy said:

I use Scrivener for writing. I think what's really upped my game lately is buying an iPhone for the first time and having Scrivener on that as well, and being able to sync the same project on my MacBook via Dropbox.

 

Just as an aside, if anyone uses Scrivener DO NOT back it up with Google Drive. There's a known bug where Drive 'forgets' certain scriv files. I didn't know this and almost lost a lot of work.  Dropbox woks fine.

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Heard a brilliant story yesterday that has a fantastic creative writing tip at the heart of it.  Agatha Christie met another famous writer for the first time, I think it was Frederick Forsythe, but it doesn't matter if that's wrong.  Forsythe was making conversation with Christie, and he was telling her that he never saw the ending coming in any of her whodunnit books.  He paid her the compliment that, despite being a best selling author himself, he'd never be able to write something so clever, so intricate, so well crafted as an Agatha Christie whodunnit.

 

"What's your secret - how do you do it?" asked Forsythe.

 

Agatha Christie explained that she sits down and writes, writes and write some more.  She creates the story as she goes, and then, when 80% of the story is complete and she's created this incredible mystery, she goes back and reads it from the beginning, notes down who the killer could not possibly be, then adds subtle clues into the text throughout.  Then she writes the last 20% knowing her ending and it's that simple.

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@dumpster That's a great story about Christie. It's probably why the other author could never see the endings coming. Christie herself couldn't see the ending either until she got close to it.

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I've read interviews with other mystery authors who have similar approaches, but also a few who know whodunnit before they start and meticulously plan it out spreadsheet stylee.

 

Personally I like Christie's approach, but it also says to me she got to the end of Murder on the Orient Express and went "Fuck it, I can't be arsed."

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