Writing Processes – Part 1: The Beginning

Because I have been asked about my writing processes, I thought I would take some time to explain how it works for me.

All writers seem to have different routines. There’s no right or wrong in this. You have to discover what works for you. But there’s no doubt that over the years my routines have changed as I learn what works and what doesn’t, and this is what I am going to share with you.

In order to do this, we have to go back to the beginning.

I wrote a lot of stories when I was a child. In fact, I was writing stories all the time. As soon as I learned to read, and write, this is pretty much what I spent most of my time doing. I created characters. I drew pictures of them, I made up family histories, personality traits, the whole deal.

I was about ten when I decided I wanted to be a published writer. Not long after that, I decided to write my first full length novel.

It was written in longhand, in pencil, in the back of school exercise books. The concept of ‘redrafting’ was alien to me then, so I just wrote it as it occurred to me and never changed a word.

It was about a girl who accidently encountered a witch’s spell that turned her invisible. With the help of her older sister, she tried to find the spell that would make her visible again, while the two of them worked at disguising her invisibility with make-up, wig, and so on so that she could live her life without anyone noticing she was invisible. I gave this whole deal a lot of thought. My character rinsed her mouth out with red food colouring and put whitener on her teeth so that her mouth appeared visible.

I also remember – very clearly – at that age, whenever I read a book, I would imagine the characters as real people. And it used to bug me that nobody ever brushed their teeth or went to the bathroom or did any of the ordinary things that real people do. So in my first novel, my main character (I seem to remember her name was Joanne) got up every morning, got dressed, had breakfast, went to school and so on.

I was 11 years old, and knew nothing about writing. I soon learned Lesson Number One. Don’t write about mundane everyday things because they are boring. Only write about things that move the action along in some way.

I did finish writing that book. I never throw any of my writing away, so it must be in my attic somewhere, along with all the other stuff I hauled off with me when I moved away from home. But it must be a tedious, painful thing to read and I have every intention of keeping it chained up in the attic.

Thus I learned the first lesson about writing.

Lesson Two to follow.

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