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What’s your writing process?

That’s one of the most common questions people ask.

My answer has always been the same: I write a synopsis, then an outline, then a chapter summary. I do all this in longhand. At times there are 15,000 words written before I ever start the first draft, which I also write in longhand. Everything happens chronologically, from the planning to the writing and the scenes themselves.

Process. I like it. It’s tangible. No surprises. I know what to expect. I’ve written three books this way, and all of them have felt organic, natural, and productive.

Then I sat down to start book four.

Nothing felt organic about it. It just wasn’t working. I went through the typical writer-panic cycle, which goes something like this:

  1. This book isn’t coming together.
  2. I’ve lost the ability to string a sentence together.
  3. Repeat steps one and two.

Then I had a breakthrough.

If something isn’t working, try something else.

Eloquent, am I right?

Instead of writing the opening scene (in other words: chronological; in other words: the usual Erin-way), I wrote the scene that I wanted to write in that moment. And I’ve been doing that for every writing session since. Nothing is in order. But I’m not going to panic. At least not yet.

Let the scenes fall where they may.

4 thoughts on “If At First You Don’t Succeed …”

  1. Great post! Sometimes you have to break the mold. Perfect post at just the right time for me. Thanks Erin!

  2. This is the way I write every novel. It is trickier to piece the scenes together and also to bridge from one chunk of a story to the next, BUT the payoff is that each page is written with the intangible passion of a writer who is insipired to write THAT scene at THAT moment. I say go with it Erin!!

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