The Writing Process Survey

I found this survey on Katy Upperman’s blog, but it originated from the Absolute Write Forums. So I thought I’d share my answers with everyone and you guys can share your answers with me.

Here we go:

DEMOGRAPHICS:

What genre do you write: I write young adult fiction and have dabbled in science fiction, urban fantasy, fantasy, but I think I’ve finally found my home in contemporary YA fiction.

How many books have you written: I’m currently writing my fourth. But of those four, only one is really polished.

Are you published? Not yet, but it’s my aspiration to be traditionally published.

PLANNING:

How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? I’m an immediate gratification kind of girl so I usually dive right in. But I let my urban fantasy about Purgatory simmer for about six years until I felt like I had the skills to get it down on paper.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? Not much. I get an idea, dive right in and figure out everything else along the way. I like to have a general road map of where the story is going, but that tends to come about in an organic way.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc): I have a notebook that I write everything in and usually have a spare word document where I write down in chapter format where the story has been and where it’s going.

REVISING:

How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Can a novel ever be done? I suppose I’ll stop drafting and revising when a novel eventually goes to a publisher 🙂

How long does it take you to write a first draft? I really like Stephen King’s quote that a novel should be written in three months. That equates to about 1,000 words a day and I like that.

How long do revisions usually take you? As above, I think they’re endless. I don’t really have a time frame, it depends how bad the first draft it and how quick critiques are coming back from beta-readers.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? It depends on the book. SECTOR12 was pretty much the same but I think when I get around to revising WRAPPED IN DARKNESS, it will be completely different.

On a side note, my mum (being the proud mum that she is) entered me in the Best Australian Blogging Awards. So if you have a spare couple of seconds, feel free to vote for me. I’m listed as Jodie Llewellyn.

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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21 Responses to The Writing Process Survey

  1. I love that pie chart! And I like you’re answers, I am more like you in my writing style, I make very basic outlines so I never loose track of where I planned on going, and then just kind of sit down and spew out words. And you’re dedication is admirable, I am trying, and currently failing, to become as disciplined as you are about writing!

    Like

  2. Hey Jodie!! I’m really loving your blog! Very motivational and inspiring! 🙂

    DEMOGRAPHICS:

    What genre do you write: Historic, contemporary, or creative non-fiction in addition to random musings on my blog and poetry!

    How many books have you written: I currently have two novels in the works.

    Are you published? I have had my reviews and poetry published in literary journals.

    PLANNING:

    How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? I am an obsessive-compulsive outliner. I am terrified of ideas getting lost and I have countless notebooks floating around to jot down ideas, bits of stories, plots and maps, etc. to ensure that the ideas don’t go away.

    How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? Insane amounts. For longer works of fiction, I will typically not start the actual writing process until I have everything mapped out in my outlines and journals/notebooks. Writers block is my worst nightmare so I want to make certain I have everything mapped out ahead of time to avoid this.

    If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc): Notebooks, journals, and OneNote. I typically like to hand write all of my outlining, sketching, planning, plotting, etc., and turn to the computer when it comes time to sit down and diligently write.

    REVISING:

    How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? I’m still actively working on my first drafts of my novels, but shorter work I usually go through and edit/rewrite at least five times!

    How long does it take you to write a first draft? However long it takes!! Ideally, no longer than a year, but there are so many factors that come into play.

    How long do revisions usually take you? Each revision process is shorter than the previous, and the duration of each go-around usually depends on editor feedback and the length of the manuscript/piece of work.

    Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? Plot-wise, no. I do enough outlining to ensure that my plot is pretty much set in stone. All of the details, settings, character traits, imagery, etc., changes and evolves throughout the course of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I voted for you. Hope you win.

    Like

  4. Juan Zung says:

    I’ve yet to finish a novel/book, so I can’t fully answer these questions. But for the most part, I discover my characters and stories as I go, and revise until it makes sense. This has worked okay with short stories, but failed miserably for longer pieces.

    Good luck with the Best Australian Blog Award!

    Like

  5. mdirvine says:

    Nice chart. We cant ever wait for inspiration- so fickle…
    Here are my answers
    DEMOGRAPHICS:
    What genre do you write: I write mystery and romantic suspense usually. I enjoy reading YA and romance but trying my hands at writing them, not so great

    How many books have you written: Three. Working on my 4th and 5th at the same time.

    Are you published? Not yet, but it’s my aspiration to be traditionally published.

    PLANNING:
    How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? Not at all. I like to write things down so I usually write whatever idea is in my head somewhere and try to get the premise down and the plot. Plot tends to come to me first before characters.

    How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? I usually write a synopsis, fill out a very brief character template and go ahead with writing the first draft. After the first draft, then I go into scrivener and do some intense post-story planning for the editing stage- music, pictures, character sketches etc. I think getting these items after the first draft keep me pumped through the editing stage.

    If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc): The one page synopsis or plot outline from Halie Ephron’s Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel

    REVISING:

    How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Im done when Im published 🙂

    How long does it take you to write a first draft? 3 months

    How long do revisions usually take you? From 6 months to a year, depending on work, my beta-readers/critique partners schedules etc.

    Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? My plot stays the same. I tend to write a lean first draft so I do a lot of adding afterwards, expanding on scenes, subplots etc. but the main plot still the same

    Like

  6. Congratulations! You’ve been nominated for an award. Check out my blog for details: http://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/the-leibster-nominated-again/

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  7. mrheslop says:

    Speaking of King’s three months rule, Agatha Christie once wrote a book in three days, and she described it as the only one she was completely satisfied with. It was a romance novel published under the name Mary Westmacott (under which she published five other romances). I wouldn’t recommend such quick writing, though, as it usually leads to spectacularly bad prose!

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  8. Jon Chaisson says:

    Since you asked…

    DEMOGRAPHICS:
    –What genre do you write: science fiction/fantasy, but have dabbled in YA/MG, lit fic, and nonfic.
    –How many books have you written: Finished? Six. Seven if I include the screenplay. Probably two or three ‘on the backburner’. I have a handful of incomplete trunked ideas as well.
    –Are you published? *sigh* No, not yet. Getting there!

    PLANNING:
    –How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? Really depends. The books in the Mendaihu Universe were a labor of love and I pretty much devoted time to it from the get-go. On the other hand, I played around with ideas for a few years with Love Like Blood before I started it properly. I hate to admit it, but I’m definitely one of those “have to be in the mood” sort of writers when it comes to long-term projects.
    –How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? More on my outlines in the next question. Most of my character sketches are in my head, but I’ve worked on a few notes here and there when need be. Drawing maps, on the other hand, is an OLD habit of mine, so if it warrants it, I’ll sketch one out for the story, not so much out of necessity but because I enjoy doing it. 🙂
    –If you use an outline, what type do you use? I rarely do a complete outline. If anything, I’ll map out the next few scenes and/or chapters, just so I can remind myself exactly where the story is going. I’ve only done a complete outline for one novel so far, but that’s because it warranted it (the novel is actually 24 chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue, each a shorter story…the format is influenced by the finite series structure of animes like Cowboy Bebop.)

    REVISING:
    –How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? I’m currently on *complete* revision number…five?…for the trilogy. And hopefully the last. I’m hoping the next projects won’t take as long.
    –How long does it take you to write a first draft? The shortest work I’ve ever done is a complete rewrite of an old screenplay within the span of a month. With fiction, it usually takes me about a year, considering I have to juggle real life and my “paycheck job”.
    –How long do revisions usually take you? This current run-through has been pretty quick, actually. Three novels within the span of about two years is not a bad thing at all.
    –Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? In terms of overall plot and direction, no. In terms of the individual scenes, definitely! The first chapter of Book I of the trilogy was completely rewritten from scratch, as it hadn’t really been rewritten since it was first put to paper around ten years previous. It needed some tough love. Other chapters I rarely touched, while still others got a major dose of red-penning.

    Like

  9. heartofheather says:

    This is a fantastic survey! You write a lot like I do, just dive right in. I was never good at outlines. I outlined one story, and it’s still sitting in my “To-Write” file. I’m just starting serious revisions on the two books I have completed and getting ready to start the third one in the series.

    I hope you don’t mind, I am going to borrow this idea for my own blog.

    Like

  10. rolltidejen says:

    Hahaha … love the pie chart! I think we ALL can identify! I also voted for your blog, and wish you the best! Plus, you put a LOT more thought into what you want to write (way more than me, that’s for sure) and you seem so organized.

    As for the survey, here’s my take on it …

    DEMOGRAPHICS

    What genre do you write? I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose it would be adult contemporary if I had to choose.

    How many books have you written? I’ve self published four. Three are poetry; the other is a children’s book for my son.

    Are you published? Self-published only, so my answer is a resounding no.

    PLANNING

    How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start planning? Never. I just write what I feel and make it up as I go along. It’s more fun for me that way.

    How much pre-story planning do you do (blah blah blah)? None. Again, I make it up as I go along. However, I DO have a motto: Write what you know. So I stick to that.

    If you use an outline … ? Hahaha … NO! I can’t be bothered with outlines. I find them too constricting, but that’s just MY opinion. I let the story take me wherever it wants to go.

    REVISING

    How many drafts … ? One-ish. If you only knew how many times I self-edit during the writing process, you’d commit me. But that’s just the former copy editor in me. Even after I post something, I have to go back and reread it for the umpteenth time just to make sure I didn’t mess anything up. I always find something and fix it. I’m my own worst critic, though. No one is harder on me than me. My former editors can attest to that.

    How long does it take you to write a first draft? Good question. My current project is the first novel I’ve actually attempted. I’m writing it to see if I can stick with it long enough to finish it. So far, so good. However, I did start writing it in 2009 and only picked it up again this year. I gave myself a 500-word minimum goal per day, which I’ve kept up with no problem. Anything more is a bonus, which I also have achieved on several occasions. In a technical sense, Chapter 12 was the most difficult to write because of the attention to detail. It seemed to take forever to tweak it, I damn near cried when it was done. While Chapter 11 is so emotionally-wrenching and pivotal — and by far the longest at 4,000 words — the words came much easier for me. So I suppose it depends on what each chapter is about and where it takes me. My initial goal was 20 chapters, which since has changed to 30 at the very least.

    Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? Yes and no. I had written six chapters in 2009 before I stopped and got sidetracked with other things. When I picked it up again this year, I revised, added content and took the story in a different direction as I let the words flow out of me. It involves quite a bit of stream of consciousness, interaction between two main characters who seem completely different but aren’t as night and day as I first thought the more they get to know each other as the novel plays itself out. The title has more than one meaning, and while there is a mystery involved, the murder isn’t necessarily the central focus. The chemistry between the main characters and their development have made it a lot of fun to write. The story is fairly campy and funny — satirical of the romance genre I so love, but without the, uh, detailed smutty parts … lol — but there are some serious overtones when you least expect them. That said, I’ve an idea who the murderer is, but I’m not completely sold on it yet. I’ll just have to wait and see where my crazy thoughts take me.

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  11. jclfaltot says:

    Hilarious visual. My “binge eating” would probably be replaced with “socializing when I should be writing”. “Inspiration” needing to be larger and I guess I do nap when I get discouraged. I suppose it’s a hopeful, maybe-I’ll-be-inspired-in-a-dream moment.

    Like

  12. suebee51 says:

    Jodie, greetings from the middle of the USA! I voted for you on the Australian blog contest. I hope you win it.

    I like the survey you blogged today. It would be good to use that as an “About.” I am going to use it as inspiration for my “About” since mine is kind of drab now.

    Like

  13. rlsharpe says:

    I agree: Is a novel ever done? I’ll constantly revise mine too until they get picked up by a publisher, which will then require more revising! I like to use a notebook for my outline too. Great interview, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

  14. edgarmillion says:

    The blue bit should be a little bigger, I reckon, and there should a section about despairing you’ll never amount to anything, and how all you’ve written so far is trite rubbish.

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  15. katyupperman says:

    I’m glad you posted this! I love reading about other writers’ processes. 🙂 (Tiny FYI which I’m not even sure I’m supposed to share, but I’m going to anyway: I was one of the Nest Pitch slushies and I read your CHEMICALS COLLIDE pitch/sample and thought it was fantastic. Best of luck with your story!)

    Like

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