Monday, 4 August 2014

My Writing Process

By Andrea Grigg

My husband and I (dear me, I sound like the Queen) were having a discussion about my writing.
            ‘What are you going to work on next?’ he asked.
            ‘I’m not sure,’ I said, ‘but I’m leaning towards the one about Anna and Ryan. Or maybe Sophie and Will. Penny and Finn? Oh, wait. Perhaps I should finish the one about Tom and Beth because that’s the sequel to A Simple Mistake and I’ve been asked so many times about what happened to Liam ... Why are you laughing at me?’
            ‘Because,’ said Geoff, shaking his head, ‘your writing is just like your knitting.’
He has a point. I start a knitting project, get a little bored, and start another. And then another. 
I do the same with my writing.
I currently have ELEVEN books on the go.
Not that I'm bored with any of them. It’s just that I get a new idea and I can’t resist the temptation to get started.
Some of them are much further along than others. Anna and Ryan’s word count sits at 21k; Sophie and Will’s, almost 23k; Penny and Finn’s around 30k; The Simple Truth, working title for the sequel to A Simple Mistake, 16k.
And I’ve used the same process for all of them.
Writers tend to fall into two categories: we’re either plotters or pantsers. A plotter researches and plans before getting down to business. A pantser gets an idea and simply starts, letting the story and the characters take them where they may. Of course, we can be a mixture of the two, but I think it’s safe to say we tend to lean more strongly toward one or the other.
Oh boy, am I a plotter!
An idea for a story arrives, complete with characters, and I mull it over for weeks, sometimes months. I think up a working title, make a folder on my computer, and off I go.
I make a character chart for my male and female protagonists: physical description, personality, family background, aspirations, things that have shaped them, likes/dislikes etc.
I research my setting(s) and collect images. I map out a plan in bullet points. (By the way, once I’m into the story the plan can change. Probably the only pantser part of me!)
I daydream while doing the housework and listen to conversations in my head. How I remember them I’ll never know, but I do. (Why can’t I remember to get everything on my grocery list?)
It’s only when I have a good grasp of my characters and where it’s all heading that I type ‘Chapter One’. You’d think I’d be on a sprint after all that wouldn’t you? But no. Once I’ve finished each chapter, my self-editor kicks in. I go over and over what I’ve written before starting the next one. There’s a word for people like me but I don’t think I should use it here! Maybe ‘pedantic’ will suffice.

I often say my stories take a while to ‘cook’. I’m working on writing faster, but it’s fair to say that if I was a kitchen appliance I’d be a crock-pot (no snide remarks thank you) rather than an oven and definitely not a microwave!
Like my photo? That's an original wedding present from 1984!
So, if you’re a writer, which cooking appliance best describes you?
And just in case you were wondering, I eventually finish ALL my knitting projects!








About Andrea Grigg:
Andrea writes contemporary romance. Her latest novel Too Pretty was released on August 1 by Rhiza Press. Her first book A Simple Mistake was a finalist in the CALEB Awards 2012

Andrea would love to hear from you via her website or Facebook page:
http://www.andreagrigg.com/
https://www.facebook.com/author.andreagrigg
  


20 comments:

  1. Hi Andrea - that is such a fun way to describe the writing process. Like knitting! But what kinds? Would A Simple Mistake be just plain stocking stitch or something more intricate? Have you got any Aran knits on the go?

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    1. Hey Annie - glad you like the analogy. ASM had a little bit of pattern, while 'Too Pretty' was more intricate. I think the sequel to ASM will feel like Fair Isle! It needs multiple points of view :)

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  2. Great post, Andrea. Ah, a girl & writer after my own heart! I work in a similar funny way, except I haven't as many books on the go as you. Though I wrote & completed three other contemporaries before deciding I much preferred writing historicals. I even deleted them instead of trying for a publisher.

    As for a cooking appliance...it would have to be a pressure cooker. It has to work up a head of steam before being turned to simmer and that's exactly how it works with my writing!

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    1. Hi Rita - Wow. You deleted THREE novels? That must have been a hard decision!

      Love the pressure cooker idea. Could be interesting to watch ...:)

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  3. Hi Andrea,
    I love the way you can move from project to project with such enthusiasm that they all get finished. And now you've piqued my curiosity about every single couple you've mentioned. I like that crock pot from 1984 and your knitting projects.

    For your question, mine might be a blender, I think. I take a whole lot of different elements, romance, mystery, suspense, a bit of fantasy sometimes, some drama, and mix them altogether into a single item like a Boost Juice bar. When I discuss them with my family, they wonder if they'll come out tasting OK with all that.

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    1. I HOPE all my novels get finished - they take a lot more concentration and time than a jumper. But I'm a determined kind of gal; I'm optimistic they will. Just need to become a regular oven or else they'll still be hanging around when I'm ninety!

      Love the blender. And from what I've read the ingredients work just fine :)

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  4. Hi Andrea
    Thanks for your post. Put a smile on my face :) I admire your skill in keeping the threads of 10 books in your head (and notebooks) while being confident that you will finish them all one day. I

    'm probably somewhere in the middle between panster and plotter - I generally have a beginning, ending and major plot points pegged out before I start writing - but not always. I've only got 8 books on the go at the moment; four at or close to completed draft, maybe 20,000 k on the 5th, extensive notes on the 6th and 2 others in the process of working out the plot framework - and I've started buying small exercise books - one for each writing project, so I can jot down my notes on each book & know where to find them when I need to.

    As for kitchen appliance - maybe a good old fashioned oven - with a couple of dishes baking on the shelves, a few trays waiting to go in, some sitting on the cooling racks almost ready for consumption, while I'm vigorously beating up the next batch in the mixing bowl.

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    1. We are a bit alike aren't we? My aim is to become an oven, just like you. Thanks Jeanette :)

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  5. I write shorter things, like blog posts and book reviews, so I guess I'm more like a frying pan: get it hot and sizzling so it's done quickly, but with the scope to turn the heat down and let it simmer if needed.

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    1. Sorry Iola - put my reply in the wrong spot. Mis-read the recipe ;)

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  6. Well I'm all kinds of slow cooker that's for sure! I have 7 novels sitting there. Three have a beginning, middle and end, the rest have around 20-30 thousand words but I can't seem to finish them at a pace to suit - and the finished ones? They might actually served if I stopped opening the lid, adding spices and stirring!

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    1. Sometimes it takes a while to work out when to invite the guests for dinner and who they should be. When you decide Cat, your dish will be just right :)

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  7. Oh to be a frying pan! I still take ages to write blogs and reviews. You'll have to give me some tips.

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  8. Love it Andrea. I'll think of you as a crock-pot from now on :) I think I'm a two-tiered saucepan with a steamer on top. I'm writing a parallel narrative at the moment, so I have separate ingredients in separate bits for now. But once the potatoes in the bottom saucepan start boiling, they lick the pants of the corn and greens in the top. Unless I forgot to add more water and the taties burn on the bottom and send a lovely burnt aroma up through everything else. Okay, maybe my metaphor needs a little work, but those separate ingredients will start interacting as the story goes along.

    I definitely tend towards more of the pantser, though I do some plotting to make sure that I have the major plot points in place before I start pantsing. I admire anyone who can plot everything first, but it would drive me nuts. My characters won't let me keep them at the starting line that long.

    Good luck with those 11 novels. Will be a big year when they all come out :)

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    1. I'm sure there are lots of jokes about Nola and steam ... loved your post :)

      Now, as to those 11 novels coming out in one year - don't think this crock-pot will let that happen. One by one, methinks.

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    2. As long as I'm getting up a good head of steam rather than running out of steam - LOL

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  9. Andrea, I love your analogy :) I tend to write fast, especially when I'm in the zone, so a microwave is probably the closest match to my process. And microwaves can be inconsistent and frustrating appliances, which is a good way to describe how I feel about my writing process today, lol.

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    1. I was hoping there'd be a microwave among us! Stands to reason it would be you, Narelle. I don't know how you do it!

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  10. Ha, ha... Andrea. What a fun post.

    I'm a slow coooker girl! I even have tonight's dinner in mine right now. I don't mind being a slow writer. It suits my style and I know the most succulent, most tender meats come from hours of slow-cooker bubbling.

    With each passing year, I learn more about what I want to deliver as a story teller. And for me, it's the 'richness of marrow' I want to write. That takes time. I know it, and I embrace it. Thanks for helping me understand it in 'cooking' terms.

    Blessings,
    Dotti xx

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    1. I think us slow cookers need to stick together!

      What you said about the results of a slow simmer is very true Dotti. May our stories be all the better for it :)

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