What Annie Does Before She Writes: My Writing Process

As I wrote this post, I had two Google Chrome tabs open: the “Edit Post” page on which I wrote this little excerpt of my life… and my unfinished manuscript.  Sorry to say it, but I was procrastinating in my writing process by writing a post about my writing process.  How paradoxical. 

Regardless, I appeased the critics in my head who insisted that I couldn’t write yet and penned this little expose on my top-secret writing process.  (Just joking, it’s not that secret.)

  1. I try to procrastinate.  Shocker!  Like every other human being who sets out to rearrange twenty-six letters and some periods until they form a coherent story, the last thing I want to do when I sit down to write is actually write.  This first step usually includes finding a chill Spotify playlist to get the creative juices flowing.  You can check out a list of my favorite songs for writing here.
  2. I put on my big girl pants and open the document.  After I get over myself, I open my draft.  While I prefer writing in Word, I keep my manuscript as a Google Doc that’s saved offline because I’m deathly afraid of my hard drive crashing and losing my precious manuscript.  It’s 43,000 words long at the moment and the idea of rewriting a 134-page draft makes my blood run cold.
  3. I throw my phone across the room.  Yes, you read that right.  Yes, I actually chuck my phone across my room, but my bed is on the opposite side of the room from my desk so I always make sure it has a soft landing.  I love staying connected to my friends but I have to spend that time talking to my characters and not texting about Friend A’s ex said to Friend B when she ran into the ex at the car dealership.
  4. I procrastinate just a little longer and light a candle.  I have a high intensity Mahogany Teakwood candle from Bath and Body Works that a friend gave me around Christmastime and it is still going strong.  It smells like writing to me, probably because I light it every time I write (because I’m a chronic procrastinator).
  5. If I’m really not into it, I make myself a cup of tea.  I love the Country Peach Tea from Celestial Seasonings because it’s so sweet that it doesn’t need any sugar.
  6. Somewhere in between the kettle boiling and my tea cooling to the optimal temperature, inspiration strikes.  Just like that, I’m cranking out pages and my tea is left to go cold.
  7. I write for ___ minutes.  I don’t like to set time constraints for myself, so I write as long as the words keep coming.  It could be two minutes, it could be two hours.  It’s taken me a while to get over the idea that I have to produce a certain amount of words every day (and it’s ridiculous that I’m saying this because I still have regular episodes of word count-induced guilt) but I let myself decide how much I’m going to write while I’m writing.  It feels more organic, more natural for me to write this way.
  8. I stop when I feel like it.  Once I get to a point when I’m not feeling the magic anymore, then I know it’s quitting time.  I’ve found that I produce my best work when I want to produce, so I try not to force it.  I’m not racing anyone to get this damn book finished so, as long as I keep chipping away at it, I’m comfortable taking my time.  I like to leave my manuscript with a half-finished sentence so that when I sit down next time, I’ll already have something to say.
  9. Rinse and repeat.  Go to sleep, wake up, and try it again the next day.

What is your writing process?  I’d love to hear what y’all have found helpful in the comments!

XO, Annie

16 thoughts on “What Annie Does Before She Writes: My Writing Process

  1. You TRY to procrastinate? Pfft! I’m such a natural that I can procrastinate constantly without even trying. And I’m not talking about once in a while. Every day, multiple times a day. I the guy that put the ‘pro’ in ‘procrastinate.’

    Before me, people used to just crastinate. Perverts.

  2. Your obsession with words reminds me of Radiohead, particularly the lead singer Thom Yorke. He choses words for his songs based on the way the sound over their meaning. It’s a fascinating process and definitely makes for some abstract lyrics.

    1. That’s so interesting! I tried writing some poetry like that for a creative writing class I took in high school and wasn’t very good at it (LOL). Some of my friends came up with crazy stuff though and it made me see words in a totally different way! Maybe I should give it another go ๐Ÿ™‚