Sunday, 1 March 2015

How I Write #1: Writing Environment & Work Flow

Welcome to the first of my How I Write series of posts. I hope to do a few of these during the course of 2015, looking at my writing process, and where better to start than with the environment in which I work..?

My writing environment is a huge part of my process. Although I am a musician and love to have music on when I'm drawing etc., when I write I prefer complete silence. I do sometimes write when my husband is here, but I work better when I have the house to myself.

Stage One - Notes
First of all I come up with an idea. These can come to me at different times; sometimes a plot enters my brain first, other times, a character. I usually jot a few notes on my pad, and then I mull them over for a day or so until I feel ready to put fingers to keys. If I need to research anything, I split this work between my library and the office, depending on whether I need books or Google.

Stage Two - First Draft - My Office
The first draft is written sitting at the desk in my office. I try to draft quickly; although, at times it's hard to stop the editor in me from picking apart a sentence or two! I write straight into Word and set up the formatting from the get-go to save time later.

I keep the blind down in the office and rely on the electric lighting to reduce the screen glare (it gets sunny here in Australia after all), and I find the room very practical and nicely shut off from the rest of the house so I can work uninterrupted (for the most part).

Stage Three - Re-Drafting - My Library/Music Room
Once I have a complete draft I usually try to take a break of at least a week or so in order to approach the second draft with fresh eyes. When the time comes I retreat to my library/music room to read through what I have so far. I consider this room 'my room', and it is my favourite space within the house. I like to relax in one of my comfy chairs, surrounded my books and instruments. It's a really calming spot (so long as hubby doesn't have the TV on in the lounge next door).

As I read I write notes on the manuscript in blue pen, ready for commencing the second draft. This is the most important part of the process for me as it is when I check continuity, characterisation and pacing.

Stage Four - Second & Third Drafts
Once I've read through it is back to the office to commence the second draft. The same process is followed for the third draft (and the fourth if necessary), and then it's back to my bright and airy library one last time for a final proofread (red pen this time) to fix any remaining typos or grammar issues before I get the piece ready for submission.

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