In the evenings, I shake off the structure of writing for work and have fun exploring the creative fiction world.
Not too long ago, the Illinois Author Project invited me to talk about my background and writing process. I wanted to share a little about how I got started as a writer, why I can't go without an outline, and why I'm a fan of NaNoWriMo.
"It’s been a lifelong dream to be an author."
How I got started as a writer
My love of writing started with a love of reading. As the daughter of a librarian, I was surrounded by books at a young age, and even then, I loved the thrill of a good mystery. I got a hold of an old typewriter as a kid and would spend hours clacking away, writing books in the basement. It’s been a lifelong dream to be an author.
In college, I studied journalism and began a career in communications. While I write extensively in my career, I still felt the tug of wanting to write creative fiction, so I set aside my spare time to work on a manuscript that had been rolling around in my mind for years.
About my writing process
With The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard, I spent a few months prepping before I started writing. I created a very detailed outline and character profiles before I ever put a pen to paper. I put a lot of thought into the structure, setting, point of view, and themes early on. After I outlined, I reviewed each scene for its contribution to the story arc, character development, and plot tension. Then, when I was ready to write, I set a goal of writing at least 500 words a day to stay on pace. This was a more structured approach than I’ve ever taken in writing, and it also produced the cleanest first draft I’ve ever had. The next step was to reread, revise, edit – and repeat.
My advice for other writers
Write for yourself and no one else. If you’re reaching out to agents or self-publishing, prepare yourself for opinions but remain true to your vision. Consistency is key when getting into a writing flow – set daily goals and hold yourself to them. Consider pushing yourself with NaNoWriMo. I did it a few years ago, and it’s hard but it creates a lot of momentum.