Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Writing Wednesday: A Process

Since posting the idea for my ebook, Finding Joy in the Moment:  Spiritual Lessons through Photography, I have had several people ask if this will be available for human eyes.  Translation:   Molly, are you going to let others read this, or just keep it hidden on your hard drive?  While it is most definitely outside my comfort zone to voluntarily create an environment where I am vulnerable to critique and criticism, I know that this is a necessary step in my writing progress.  So yes, the ebook will be available for others to read... at some point.

But writing is work, long laborious work, and there is a natural process from inception to publication which involves several steps.  While there is no one right formula to follow, I thought it might be helpful to outline my writing process for those who are waiting to read this collection of essays.

There are essentially two categories of writers:  the Pantsers and the Planners.

The Pantsers are those who "fly by the seat of their pants" - they are struck with an idea and they run with it.  Sometimes they write themselves in a corner and have to backtrack to work themselves free; sometimes they stall in the middle and wait for further inspiration; sometimes their writing takes several bunny trails to reach the end and there is quite a bit of necessary revision to clean it up.  They are never at a loss for ideas, however, and often this creativity allows them to complete a rough draft in record time.

The Planners, on the other hand, like to organize the project from beginning to end before writing a single word.  Often they will structure an outline with not only broad chapter descriptions, but detailed plot points every step of the way.  Once they begin writing, the book practically writes itself.  There are few unnecessary diversions because the path to the end is clearly marked.  The mushy middle is not quite as murky because the stepping stones are already in place.  There is still a revision process required, but there are few bunny trails to rewrite.

For those of you who know me well, there is no doubt which writing camp I belong.  However, I do not plan every significant detail before I begin.  I like to allow some organic growth to take place; some insights or direction that I can only gain by writing.

Then there is the matter of research.  For any book, whether fiction or non-fiction, some research must take place if the story is going to ring true.  Facts should be double checked and a dictionary is an essential tool to fully understand the meaning of words.  Some writers save this necessary detail until the first draft is complete.  They are most concerned with getting the draft written, so they mark the passages where additional information is required and keep on writing.  Other writers try to anticipate the research needs prior to starting the project and develop reference notes that can be accessed during the draft phase.  I tend to fall in this latter group.  Research helps me to flesh out ideas, as well as gives me a firm grounding in my content area.

At this point in my Work in Progress (WIP) I have developed a rough outline that consists of fifteen chapters.  I have written 2-3 sentences on each chapter's index card that summarizes the general points.  I have arranged the index cards in what I think is a logical progression for the book.  And I have written a very rough draft of the introduction and first two chapters.  Currently the word count is approximately 1,500.  I know that each of these areas can be further developed however, so I think each essay will be approximately 1,000 words.

As in any creative endeavor, there is value in deadlines.  It serves as motivation which is a catalyst for inspiration.  While there is no outside force to establish this deadline, after all it is my own idea for my own pleasure, it would be very easy to say that I will complete it whenever...  But we all know that life will get in the way, and I do want to finish.  I want to see if I actually have what it takes to be a "writer" and for that reason alone I am setting the deadline of November 1st to complete the rough draft. This seems quite manageable:  15,000 words in approximately six weeks.  But November 1st is also significant because it marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, in which I would like to participate.

Now.... this does NOT mean that the book will be ready for human eyes.  I know plenty of revisions as well as detailed edits will need to be made, and I have recently entertained the idea of including photographs to help illustrate the spiritual lessons.  While I have some usable photos on my hard drive already, I know I will need to supplement with others.  Unfortunately I won't know what pictures to take until I finish the project.  However, in an effort to keep myself accountable I will set a tentative deadline of December 31st to complete all written revisions and edits, February 28th to complete all photographs, and March 24th for publication (end of spring break).

I anticipate a big challenge in learning how to compile the manuscript, with pictures, in a suitable format for ebook publication.  I will more than likely opt to use PDFs as it is the most versatile and can be read on a variety of computers or other electronic devices and ereaders.  I have no idea what costs I might incur, but that is the least of my worries at the moment.

For now, I will write.


  1. You have two very interesting journeys ahead of you, one nonfiction, and the other, fiction. Have fun with them! I am sure that both journeys will result in you learning so much about yourself and others. I know that certainly happens with me, in writing fiction. It is totally engrossing.

  2. If you need a reader, I'm there!

  3. I am SO excited about this project, Molly!! Good for you, dear Planner!