Writing Process Blog Tour: What am I writing and, dear lord, why?

I’m honored that my dear friend Ellar Cooper of Ellar Out Loud has invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour that’s been making the rounds. If you’re not aware (because I wasn’t before she asked), many blog writers are answering a list of questions about their own writing process, then tagging other writers to do the same on their blog. It’s a great project and I’m happy to be a part of it and share my own process with anyone who’s interested.

1. What are you working on?

Right now I’m trying my hand at some YA horror. I’m a big chicken when it comes to watching movies, but I love eerie stories that send chills down my spine. This new project follows two teens as they simultaneously go through strange and frightening changes, and team up to try to stop themselves from turning into monsters. Trust and time are both issues, as neither of them know what is happening, why, or if the other one is secretly responsible. It’s fun to write and I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere, but right now I don’t want to be writing anything else.

 

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I personally haven’t read anything like this before. YA horror in general is tough to find, but it does exist. While I think a lot of basic stories have been done before, I do my best to make my stories unique through my characters, through their unique backstories, viewpoints, and experiences.

 

3. Why do you write what you do?

If I were smarter, I probably wouldn’t be writing this book right now. I’d probably be writing something less strange, easier to pitch and sell. But I have to remind myself that ultimately, there are no guarantees, and if I’m not writing what I’m drawn to, then I’m not going to have any motivation. Sure, we get fatigued by our projects eventually and wouldn’t finish most of them if we didn’t force ourselves to edit when we didn’t want to look at something anymore, but when you’re starting something new, like I am, there’s no such thing as a “safe bet,” so you might as well just write what you love.

If the question is more general, like, why do I write YA, or even just fiction, then the answer is even simpler: that’s what I like to write. And if you’re not writing something you like, you’re not going to like writing very much.

 

4. How does your writing process work?

I have ideas for a long time before they ever see the outside of my brain. Sometimes months. Sometimes years. I need them to go through a rather lengthy gestation period before I can actually do anything besides think about them. Generally they start off as a seedling of an idea. For this particular project, it was, “Two teens are getting weird scary powers and they don’t have anything in common.” I didn’t know who they were, their names, whether they’d be ultimately able to stop the process, why it was happening. But over time, I figured out more and more details, until the story had a solid beginning, middle, and end, along with fleshed-out characters both main and supporting, a setting, and the tone I wanted to use.

If I’d tried to write this book before it was ready, it wouldn’t have worked. I know because I’ve done it before, thought, “Eh, I don’t know how it ends yet, but if I just keep writing I’ll eventually figure it out.” Many writers can do this. I’ve never been able to. I reach the halfway point, find my characters sitting around endlessly recapping their situation because they don’t know where to go next, and lose interest. I don’t do a lot of actual pre-writing, but I almost think of this as my pre-writing process. Even though most of the time, no actual writing is getting done, I’m giving the project the time it needs to get ready to be an actual story.

Once the idea is ready and I’m psyched to write it, the actual drafting process tends to move along pretty smoothly and quickly. There might be a few snags along the way, related to both the real world and the world of the novel, but on the whole, once I’m ready, I can knock out about 1,000 words a day and have the first draft done in about three months. It’ll be a messy draft, sure. It might even need a partial or complete overhaul. But it’s done, it’s on paper, and I know what it is.

Well, now that you’ve learned about me and my process, hopefully you want to learn about how other writers work as well! We all have our own unique methods and you never know what will resonate with you. So, here are my tags for next Monday:

Pam Watts graduated from VCFA and now studies the classics. She writes for teens and blogs about childhood adversity and children’s books. Her blog can be found here.

Rebecca Maizel hails from Rhode Island where she lives and works. She teaches at her alma mater the prestigious Wheeler School where they have willingly accepted her back. She tries not to force her students to read her published novels for young adults. Rebecca has published with St. Martin’s Press, has two novels for young adults forthcoming in 2015 and 2016 with HarperCollins, and recently achieved an MFA in Writing for Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her blog can be found here.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellar Cooper
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 22:03:55

    Great post, Rachel! And I love this: “If you’re not writing something you like, you’re not going to like writing very much.” Oh, so true. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Trackback: The “My Writing Process” Blog Tour… | Joe McGee - Author
  3. Trackback: My Writing Process | Strong in the Broken Places

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