I’ve gotten requests from fellow writers Megan Rogers (formerly Stolz) and Rachel Wooley to participate in this blog tour thing that’s going around. If you don’t know what the blog tour is, this is it in a nutshell: in a single blog post, answer four specific questions about your writing process (see below), and ask other writers to do the same and provide you with a bio so you can link to their blogs in your own post. They have 10 days to make their own posts. I have a lot going on at the moment and don’t have time to pass the buck, but I’ve linked Megan and Rachel’s blogs above. You should check them out.
Here are my answers:
Blog Tour Question #1: What am I working on?
I’ve always got multiple projects going at once (e.g., stories, books, screenplays, and concepts for each of these). Lately, though, I’m working on a new short story about love and food, and I’m trying to nail a screenplay concept down so I can finally write a real draft of the screenplay (I’ve written fragments, but the story has turned into something else, so I need to start over and work from a stronger outline). It’s about a time-traveling polygamist of sorts.
I have other stories, screenplays, and books that I want to write. It’s just a matter of finding time.
Blog Tour Question #2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t really have an established genre yet, either in prose or in screenwriting. In my MFA program, I had to write literary fiction, and I did enjoy that and would like to continue that style for my prose writing. I’ve written a lot about fathers and their children, and quite a bit about the moon, and my stories live in both realistic and fantastical worlds. In short, I don’t write just one thing or, necessarily, one genre. Literary fiction is supposed to defy genre. That said, screenplays fall into very specific commercial boxes. So for screenwriting, I tend to gravitate toward dramatic and even tragic stories in the category of drama, mystery, or thriller. Thus far, I don’t do straight comedy, although I’m trying to learn.
In general, I like love stories of any genre, so I try to incorporate that when I can. I also like stories with a supernatural element, no matter how small that element is. I love stories with layers, so for TV, I’m partial to serial dramas rather than procedural dramas, and that’s where all of this is headed for me, the ultimate goal: becoming a writer on a serial drama.
As far as how my work differs, I’ve been told my prose sometimes feels like TV, which, if true, is a good thing for me, considering my goal. I’ve always felt like I write in images. I see stories in images before I even know what they’re really about, and then I fill in the details. I convey what a character is feeling, but I also need the reader to know what’s going on around the characters, what make them feel the way they do. To do that, I paint a picture.
But really, the only thing that makes my writing different is that I am the one who wrote it, through my own creative lens and life experience. This is a question I’ll have to come back to every so often so I can establish who I am as a writer in relation to other writers. At this point, I’m too new to the writing world to know myself. I’m still experimenting.
Blog Tour Question #3: Why do I write what I do?
I write what I do because I’m the only one in the world who can figure out exactly what my story is and how to write it. That’s the wonderful thing about art in any form, but especially writing: everyone has a different take, a different style, a different angle, and everyone has to work at finding the story. It doesn’t come to us fully formed. Even if two or more writers are working on the same basic concept, and even if they’re relying on formulaic devices, the results will be vastly different. It’s empowering to know that such greats as Ray Bradbury, Angela Carter, and Charles Dickens couldn’t have written Life on Other Moons. But I could—and did. It lived only in my head until the day I put it in print.
So I write what I do because I have a unique story that belongs to me and that someone in the world needs to know. Even if it’s just me.
Blog Tour Question #4: How does my writing process work?
At the moment, it doesn’t! I need to find more time to write. That’s why I recently started experimenting with a monthly schedule that I draft at the beginning of the month and then tweak throughout. I like to plan my time out as far as a whole month—particularly for tasks like cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.—because it gives me a bird’s eye view. If I see a conflict because I’m going to Indiana for four days (which I just did), I can figure out the best time to work on a particular task to account for the change.
For writing tasks, specifically, the experiment has had mixed results so far. Nonetheless, here’s how it works, ideally…
The schedule is split into day parts: early morning (i.e., the time before I have to leave for work, which means 7:30 to 8 a.m.), the 9–5 work period (even though I actually start no later than 8:30 a.m.), evening (i.e., 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for me), and then the hour or two right before bed (which is usually around 12:30 a.m. for this night owl). I try not to put more than two tasks for any given day part, and most days don’t have an early morning task since I’ve found that I can’t count on myself to actually do it. If I find that I need to put more than two or three tasks in a day part, I’m probably trying to do too much, so I’ll try to shuffle things around.
The point is to keep a steady but manageable stream of productivity. And just because I’ve got a task or two scheduled for a day part doesn’t mean I’ll spend that entire day part working on those things. I might take breaks to send a text message or e-mail, surf the Internet for a bit, etc. I try not to freak out about staying on task; otherwise, I’d go insane.
Here’s a typical Monday:
Morning: E-mails or nothing
Evening: Yoga, Scripts
Before Bed: Prose
I try to keep it general. For instance, whenever it says Scripts, I might decide to work on writing a screenplay, or I could just read a screenplay for self-improvement. Or I might write marketing materials for a script or try to hone the concept, outline, etc. For Prose, I might write or outline a short story, a book or movie review, a blog entry, etc., or I might just read something—pretty much anything that’s not an e-mail, social media post, website, etc. Whenever possible, I try to be off my computer in the hour or so before bed, so in other words, I’m reading from a physical book or at least my Kindle. It doesn’t always happen, though.
A weekend might see additions like Groceries, Social Media (i.e., putting tweets and Facebook posts into the queue for my online writing personas), Photography (either taking or editing photos), and so on.
My actual writing and editing process is like that of most other writers. But I’m one of those writers who needs to let things sit. I’ll write a draft of whatever it is (story, screenplay, or whatever I need to write) and then leave it alone for a while. I have a bad habit of editing while I write, so this resting step is especially important. By the time I’ve written something, I’ve agonized over it way more than I should have, so I really just need to let it sit for a while. Then I come back to it to see what sticks out structurally/conceptually, and I do another pass to fix those issues. I do this as many times as necessary to get the text right. I’m also likely to make small changes to wording, punctuation, etc., in these drafts. Then I try to do one more pass for that kind of stuff at the end.
And that’s about it. What’s your process like?