Novel Writing: Is there a “Writing Process”?

987763_man_thinkingThis is why I love my blog–and more specifically, you guys, or “all y’all”, as we’d say in New Orleans.

One of your comments the other day gave me a great idea for a post, and this is it. The comment mentioned that, instead of fruitlessly struggling hour after hour with a troublesome section of your story or novel, “if you put the work away and come back to it later, you’re a lot more likely to see exactly what you need to do. Sometimes you’ll keep the text as is, sometimes you’ll just cut it all, and sometimes you need to make a simple, straightforward change.”

Reading that, I got to thinking about how true it was, and how interesting that there’s no one right way to fix a problem in your work in progress. For different editing problems, any one of the suggested angles of approach might be what’s called for.

I’ve described writing as an adventure, and it’s exactly that. Editing is part figuring out what’s wrong, and mostly, after that, finding a way to fix it. Writing is part figuring out where you want to go, and mostly finding a way to get there, then taking u-turns along the way and winding up somewhere else entirely.

It’s all less of a process than a puzzle. And that’s why I love writing: the “puzzle” and “brain-teaser” aspects keep it from ever getting dull. There’s no “one size fits all” solution.

  • What works for you in one case might not be appropriate in another, even if on the surface the problem seems similar. So have fun exploring your options, being creative, exercising your mind, and getting to know awesome characters. Have fun being adventurous and trying something new for you. (I did that in November with NaNoWriMo, and had an absolute blast.)
  • What works for one person might not work for another. Everyone thinks differently. Different approaches appeal to different people. So have fun discussing writing with fellow writers, giving and taking, getting to know some awesome people and forging some really great relationships.


Some writers have more of  a “process” than others, I suppose. Some people, writing multiple novels, follow the same procedure to a greater degree time after time more than others do.

That’s part of how you adjust the writing process for you. If you feel comfortable with routine, and rules, and procedure–if they keep you on track–then you figure out what your rules are and you stick to them time after time. And that’s fabulous, because it works for you and, equally important, you enjoy writing that way.

Sometimes tools can be helpful. They can ground you and offer direction.

Sometimes tools can be helpful. They can ground you and offer direction.

But even the planners, I think–even those with their “process” rather than a pellmell, anything-goes approach–have to be ready for bumps along the road and be willing to adjust for sudden changes in plan and random flashes of inspiration.

And that’s why for me writing has never gotten boring.

Sometimes, sure, I’ll get sick of the novel I’m editing for the seventh time. But even then I’ll experience flashes of engagement with the material when I see it in a different light for the first time. I love those moments. I love the thrill of writing, and I guess you could say I “put up” with editing as a result.

Writing just doesn’t get boring. Ten years in, it’s never gotten boring. Maybe there are some people who, say, put “write a novel” on their bucket list and do it, and never write a second one. There’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest, but that’s not me. I guess the problem is that writing’s not boring enough: it’s not boring enough for me to convince myself to stop doing it.

I guess that’s how I know I’m a writer. And how you know you’re one, because chances are, if you’re reading this blog and interested enough in creative writing to spend time researching and contemplating the topic, you feel the same way.


3 responses to “Novel Writing: Is there a “Writing Process”?

  1. Amen sister! Thanks again for the encouragement.

  2. Pingback: Creative Writing Facts I’ve Learned from Blog Comments: Point of View, Second Drafts, and More | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

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