Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Writing Process

Often when I am interviewed, I am asked questions about my writing process. So I thought today, I'd give you a glimpse into my writer's world.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than when I can write in a frenzied, blissful fog and lose myself completely in the world of creativity. Once I wrote a 40,000 word memoir in six days. And I wrote the first draft of my second published novel, Love in Three Quarter Time, in six weeks.

But now that I'm a "professional" writer, I rarely get that luxury. These days, my writing process begins with preparing a summary (synopsis) for my publisher. Once it's approved, I pound out about 2,000 words a day, five or so days a week. 2,000 words might sound like a lot, but that usually takes me under two hours. What takes a lot more time each day is getting myself in the mood to write. Usually I begin my day with house chores and errands, so I can feel like everything is in order. I have some quiet time with God. Then I re-read and edit what I wrote in the last few days. If that isn't enough to get my creative juices flowing, I might take a walk or exercise to try to let my mind wander freely to that creative space.

One unique thing about my writing process is that I never just sit and stare at a blank page. I don't believe in doing that. In fact, I "just say no" to writer's block. Occasionally I'll force myself to get some words down even if my imaginary friends aren't talking in my head that day. If after a few pages I haven't found my flow, I stop, because my writing won't be any good anyway. However, I always stay well ahead of deadlines so that I can afford to do that. In general, I find that a lack of creativity means I've hit a snag. Usually after a day or two of letting my subconscious work on things, I figure out where the story went wrong, fix it, and then I'm able to move forward again.

I don't use any fancy systems, outlines, or software to write. I don't listen to music, write on my walls, make bulletin boards, or follow any weird rituals. I usually have two Microsoft Word documents. One for notes and research, and the other which includes the manuscript, plans for upcoming scenes, and occasionally complete random scenes that come to me out of order or even just cool lines that pop into my head.  I guess that means I'm pretty good at staying mentally organized. For one of my books, Dance from Deep Within, I did chart out my three protagonists journeys and how they would overlap and intertwine, but I was still pretty new to novel writing at the time.

Dina's Writing Space
Writing is a solitary activity for me. I usually come up with my ideas completely on my own. Although, for the Valiant Hearts series, I did some brainstorming with my kids to devise lots of unique story premises once the general concept was solid in my mind. Most of the time, I need privacy and silence to write. On the other hand, I do stay surrounded by writer friends--both online and through a local group--for encouragement, help with snags, and critiquing purposes.

The other aspect of my process that is a little unique is where I write. Often, I see posts about writing spaces, and the writer talks about a desk in a quiet little nook surrounded by supplies. That's not me. My writing is all about my laptop--on my lap. In fact, it wasn't until I received my first laptop that I got serious about writing. I hate sitting at a desk. Ninety-five percent of the time I write curled up on my bed. Occasionally on a couch. And sometimes when I'm really in the writing mood, I sit at the kitchen table and continue writing while cooking dinner, although that method is likely to result in culinary mishaps.

So that's my writing process. Mostly just me, my imagination, and my laptop. Any questions?


  1. Oh my, I think I can identify with that kind of mood, Though with me the panic is more to track down where I got that dratted quote or reference from. There's one quote I love, allegedly from the Ancient Roman writer Seneca, 'There is no great genius without some hint of madness' perhaps it could be modified to 'Eccentricity is a creative person without a pen'?

  2. That would definitely make a person crazy. LOL.

  3. Not that I mean to suggest that I am any kind of genius- but is it just me that thinks creative people often do seem a little- odd, eccentric, or peculiar? Don't get me wrong, I think I sometimes like the above- ordinary IMO seems boring.

    C.S.Lewis was an eccentric, and look what he wrote- and though I've never heard of Tolkien having been so, I think in some way, Medievalists have to be slightly crazy. Maybe its a boon for creative writing?

  4. "What takes a lot more time each day is getting myself in the mood to write" Yes! I have been thinking about that recently and how I could better do that without snacking. I had thought I was just procrastinating, but perhaps not. :-) I used to think that I needed a "room of my own" like Virginia Woolf complete with creating the right atmosphere and what not, which is nice, but not anymore. With having kids, I've learned I have to take what I get and run with it. Ha! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I'm glad I got you thinking, Jennette. Everyone has their own process that works for them. You mostly learn through trial and error.