18 Jan

Gabi’s Sooper Seekrit Method for Writing a First Draft

Posted in DIY MFA, Inspiration, Process, Writing

Step 1: Wake up at 3:42AM with an idea.  Decide not to write it down because your notebook is in the other room and if you go get it, you’ll be too awake to fall asleep again and then you’ll have insomnia.  Convince yourself that it’s OK to go back to sleep without writing the idea down because you’ll remember it in the morning.

Step 2: Don’t remember it in the morning.  Remember just enough to know that you lost a superbly awesome idea.  Beat your head against the wall.

Step 3: Never fear.  Said idea will come back to you at another, even more inopportune moment, like in the shower.  This time you’ll be ready with a notebook.  Write it down.

Step 4: Spend precisely 12.667 days obsessing over how awesome said idea is and how you can’t wait to write it.  (Number of days may vary depending on the awesomeness quotient of the idea.)

Step 5: Sit down in a frenzy and write exactly 613 words (give or take), exploring said idea.  Read it over.  Decide that you’re the worst writer ever and you’ll never be able to capture such an awesome idea on paper.  Beat your head against the wall.  Again.

Step 6: Read a novel or two, or twelve.  Obsess about how amazing those books are and how unbelievably sucky your writing is and how you might as well do something else with your life, like collecting rare edible fungi.

Step 7: Have a good cry.

Step 8: Read what you wrote again and find one moment, one turn of phrase that’s not completely awful.  Decide you’re not utterly hopeless (just 99% hopeless).  Try again.

Step 9: Fall in love with a character.  Start seeing the world through her eyes and realize you kind of like living in her head.  Decide you’ll stay a while.

Step 10: Stop obsessing about the idea and start obsessing about your character.  Make long character bios for her and all her family and friends (even if her family and friends have nothing to do with the story in the first place).  Write outlines, mind maps, charts, whatever it takes to keep your ideas straight.  Sleep with your notebook under your pillow.

Step 11: Practice some stealth writing.  Hide in a dark corner of a coffee shop and write.  Jot down ideas while riding the subway.  Talk to yourself.  Listen to the voices in your head.  Write down everything and don’t look back.

Step 12: Repeat Step 11 and keep moving forward until you get to the end of the story.  When you hit a wall, remind yourself why you fell in love with this character and this story in the first place.  When all else fails, ask your muse to send you strength to carry on.

Step 13: Carry on.

This post is part of the “What’s Your Process?” Blogfest, hosted by Shallee McArthur.


Comments on this post

  1. Shallee says:

    This made me smile! Thanks for sharing your process– I think we can all relate to the feelings of insecurity.

    1. Summer Ross says:

      LOL, great process, very creative and you have some honesty of feeling in it. Thanks for the smile

      1. Ghenet says:

        Great post! I'm currently on step 11, trying to write as much as I can without looking back. It's the looking back I'm having trouble with. After being in our MFA program for so long and being forced to self-edit all the time, it's hard to stop and just write.

        1. Christine Danek says:

          Great process. I can totally relate especially when I like living in my characters head.
          Thanks for sharing.

          1. JEFritz says:

            This is so similar to what I do it's eerie. Except I'm never so productive.

            Anyway, I'm giving away a blog award to cool new blogs I've found like yours. I hope you guys will accept it. Good luck with your writing!

            1. Lindz says:

              You really captured the frantic-energy involved in brainstorming a new story. I think we can all relate.

              1. Kari Marie says:

                This was great. I'm still smiling. I can totally relate to….all of the steps. Thanks for sharing this!

                1. Bookewyrme says:

                  Your process makes me giggle! And I sympathize with step one. Only for me it isn't at 3 am (well, sometimes but only if I'm just getting to bed) but right after I get in bed and get comfortable. Then it is a decision about getting up and getting awake and excited, or staying in my nice warm nest.


                  1. Plamena Schmidt says:

                    Wow, your really summed up the process! Ideas definitely come along when you're not looking for them, and usually at inconvenient times.

                    1. SariBelle says:

                      Haha great take on the writing process! Love it. Especially step 13. That's the one I need to work on.

                      1. Parrot Writes says:

                        Sounds just like my November! Thank goodnes for steps 8,9, and 10!

                        1. Karen Akins says:

                          Ahhh…sounds like my process exactly. lol

                          1. Madeleine says:

                            Hiya, I'm back from my 'sick bed' now so catching up on the posts and fests. Thanks for a great laugh, partly because I could identify with it. I even bought a dictaphone to use in those difficult moments when writing isn't an option but my dictaphone is always somewhere else. LOL! I LOVED this post. :O)

                            1. Marieke says:

                              Way late, but love love love this 🙂

                              1. Michelle says:

                                Very insightful view into the reality of writing!

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