I always find it interesting to learn how other authors write. I’ve read about so many varied strategies, from authors who write everything on small pieces of scrap paper and compile it all later, to authors who won’t write a single word for the book until they’ve used an entire wall of their office to map out character profiles and a detailed plot summary.
My process has always been fairly organic, and my current process was heavily influenced by Stephen King’s book, On Writing.
What I do, in a nutshell, is I wake up every morning and I write.
Depending on what I am working on, I have different parameters. For instance, right now I’m working on a journal style novel written by a boy growing up in Nevada in the 80s. His entries are short, and voice is important. My current goal is to write at least three entries a day. Sometimes I manage more than that, but the idea is to have a minimum.
For more traditional novels, I often have word count goal. This goal varies depending on the type of writing I am doing. For first drafts, I try to write 2,000 words a day. This is fast, fun writing. I try not to worry too much about precision of language and voice refinement. I just need to get the story down.
After a book is written, of course, it is not finished by a long shot. I put all of my work through varying degrees of rewriting. Sometimes this involves pitching the entire first draft and starting fresh. Sometimes it means merely recrafting certain parts of the book. When I’m rewriting, my goal is 1,000 words day. These words are much slower to come up with. Here is where I pay attention to researching every plot device, refining voice, and adding lots of detail to slow the narrative down and make it come to life.
When is a book done? It varies. Some books manage to feel finished after just one rewrite. Some I never get back to rewriting at all. Others I end up writing as many as four times before they are ready to send to press.