After reading this post from Katy Upperman about her writing process, I started thinking about my own. Now, I can't say too much about my writing process for the simple reason that I'm still in the middle of it for my first attempt at any kind of novel-length writing. But I realized that I can make some predictions based on the similarities I've noticed so far between how I write and how I do other big projects.
Let's use cleaning the house as an example.
There's the first stage--big and messy and relatively simple. When I clean, that's when I take the ENTIRE mess--whether it's a room or several rooms--and put it in one place (usually the floor in front of the TV so I can have a little entertainment while I work!) With writing, that was my first draft, or at least, my currently ending-less 60K words. It feels really productive, because in a relatively short time, something big and visible has happened--the rest of the house is clean! I have 60K words down! Yay! It took a big burst of energy and focus, but now there's something there.
Next up: organization. I know I have a lot of work in front of me, so here is where I usually do something that doesn't require as much energy. In cleaning, I'll sit down next to the pile and start making sense of it. I'll sort things into piles based on the room they should be in, or the drawer where they belong. If it's a really big mess, I start by just sorting out trash from non-trash. This can happen with the TV on, and isn't that big a deal. For me, this stage of writing has been happening in bits and pieces this week. I was away from my WiP for too long over the holidays to tackle the ending, so I decided to print it out and read it over. Since I had it in crummy GoogleDoc format, I decided to go through it in OpenOffice, removing the extra spaces I automatically add after periods (I know it's wrong, but it's muscle memory. I'm working on it!) and making actual paragraphs rather than skipped lines. Now, I know that at this point in the process, these things are not the important parts. Clearly I will be rewriting like whoah before I need to worry about formatting. But I need these little breaks of busywork in a project to let myself gear up for the hard parts ahead.
Once things are more or less organized, I have the steam for another big push. This is when I actually start putting things away: the TV is off, and I'm moving around. Could I have just done this from the pile? Yes. But it feels nicer now, plus I had that break. This is what I'm hoping to be doing soon with my WiP--actually doing the work of figuring out what goes where and what is still needed. I could have just skimmed through my doc and tried to push through to the end, but I have more confidence in getting all the way through if I work from a nicely organized print-out that I spent some time on.
Towards the end, there's always one pile of stuff that I just don't know what to do with. Maybe it's new stuff that doesn't have a real place yet, or mail that I'm not sure whether to recycle or save for Mr. S, or something that I'm not sure whether to keep out or put away. I'm sure I'll get here with my WiP--weird problems I'm not sure how to solve. When I'm cleaning, this is where I often get discouraged and shove the pile toward Mr. S: "What do I do with this stuff?" In writing, hopefully that's where a CP will come in.
And of course, all that is just to get me to the end of this draft. The house might be clean, but come on--the closets could definitely use reorganization, the dresser drawers don't really shut, there are boxes of "misc." shoved under the bed. At some point, you have to take everything apart, move all the piles of not-quite-working stuff out into the open, and take stock of what to put back and where. So if housecleaning is like drafting, I can imagine that revision will be a lot like the time that we put ALL our belongings on the living room floor and started from scratch (rearranging the furniture, donating to Goodwill, re-dividing the dresser and closet space). It was kind of grueling (mitigated by the fact that we watched all three seasons of Veronica Mars that week while we worked) but ultimately really satisfying. I think that's why I'm looking forward to revision the most--I love tackling a huge project like that, knowing that in the end there will be a product that I'm proud of.
I also have to remember that inevitably, at some point in this process, I lose ALL my energy and feel like I will never be able to move or think ever again. Every. Time. I usually take a Netflix-and-computer-game time out, and after an episode or two of something funny and a level or two completed in one of my games, I'm back on my feet. I don't know what this will look like in my writing process, exactly, but I do know that I've already had days where I hated everything I wrote and days where I went back and found things I loved. So while I'm sure those moments of despair will show up as I write, I'm confident that I'll get over them.
What about you? Is your writing process similar to how you work on other things, pr is it a completely different experience for you?