My Writing Process is a Seinfeld Episode
It’s no secret how much I love Seinfeld. I think I first began watching it around the second-to-last season. Now, I have seen every single episode – multiple times – and it never fails to make me laugh. Sure, there are certain episodes I prefer not to watch, and others I’ll never miss. As much as I love Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine, I think my absolute favorite episodes are those including David Puddy.
In my previous job, every single day a coworker and I would take some instance in the day and fit in a Seinfeld line perfectly. He claimed to be a huge Seinfeld fan, but I found myself quite disappointed when he didn’t know what episode the line referred to, or if he didn’t know the line at all. However, I will admit, my husband probably can recite every episode to you by heart. Anyway, if I miss one thing about my previous job (and trust me, it’s one thing), it’s the daily Seinfeld references. This got me thinking about my writing. I am sure my entire writing process can be summed up quite well with Seinfeld quotes.
Writing a book starts with an idea. I have plenty of them. They’re basic, and I think on it to come up with the full storyline. I have notes in Evernote – a sentence, a title, or a character’s name – and I review those notes when I start to write.
You’ve GOT to have a story!
Then, I need characters. They are always present in my head, but in order to write, I need an actor and actress to portray the lead in my mind. I can’t just write it and hope for the best. If I can’t see them, it’s not going to work. I sit for awhile and think really hard about their traits until I can find that perfect actor and their image on Pinterest, then suddenly it’s like:
NICE TO MEET YA!
So, with that, I start typing. Coming up with the beginning can go one of two ways. Either it rips out of me and I fiercely type on the keyboard, or I stare at the white space. Many times I feel like I’m sitting in a room staring at the wall, doing nothing, much like George with the Penske File. Typically I write a good 15-20K before I look at it and think:
I wonder about the story and if it’s worth writing. I doubt myself over and over again. I distract myself with other things (usually Candy Crush and Facebook), and stare at the wall some more. This is the point I usually take a shower. If you haven’t heard, they do wonders for getting your creative juices flowing. Once I finish my first draft, I type THE END and feel incredibly accomplished. I let it rest for awhile. I like to take about a week off and not even look at it. A lot of times I play with a cover if I have a title. I never finish the cover at this time, but it helps get me excited about the story again.
I love this story!
A week passes and then it’s time for the part I hate most – revisions. I start reading through, and I wonder if I ever will get through this, even though I have only just begun. I make slight corrections, and add in entire paragraphs, and scenes. Once I get the book to a point I’m ready for beta readers to ridicule, I mean critique, the manuscript, I send it off. And totally freak out.
I feel this way most times as an author!
While my book is out with beta readers, and I await the inevitable emails from them outlining everything they despise about the storyline, I start writing another book or short story. Then the first email comes in. It’s long, detailed, and while it points out many great things about the story, I can only focus on the negative. I hate this person who points out every single thing I probably knew was wrong with the story but didn’t want to admit. All I can think is:
I really LOVE my beta readers!
Then the remaining emails begin to come in, and they point out the same issue, and I start to love the first beta reader again because I realize the issue pointed out truly is an issue and I need to deal with it. I kindly thank all beta readers (authors, remember to always do this – even if someone who read it hates it. These people take time to read and critique for you). I take another few days to process the information I received, and then open up my file again to begin THE PROCESS.
I never know how to start this. Should I rewrite the entire thing? Should I go through and make the minor tweaks needed and then tackle everything again? Inevitably, I start that way, and then end up determining I need new scenes and write my new scenes to add in later. Once I finish writing them and revising the rest, I go back and weave in the added scenes. At this point, I read through it again. I’m either thinking:
Maybe it’s time you got a new hobby…..
Or, I’m loving every second of what I read and I’m hearing:
Maybe I’ve got something here …..
Finishing the revisions is the best feeling ever. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point – usually at least five or six months – and I’ve endured sleepless nights, early mornings, tons of self-doubt, and now, finally, I’m almost ready to show this to the world. First, however, I need to do line edits. I need to read every single line carefully and make sure I’m not missing any words, or a period, or anything. Remember when I said revisions are the worst for me? This, well, this is dull. However, it must be done. And so it is.
But I’m almost done!
Before hitting the publish button, I compile my manuscript multiple times in Scrivener, send it to my Kindle, and review it a thousand times for formatting issues. Usually, I always make the same mistakes in this process. My chapter headings are all wrong, I’m missing page breaks, or an entire section. You’d think I learn and save my settings! I never do, though.
A little harsh, but true.
I spend the night before release riding the emotion roller coaster. I’m excited. Scared. Nervous. I wonder if I should even be publishing my book. Who’s going to read it? What if it completely fails and no one buys it or likes it? Or the opposite?
What if it’s well received and it takes off? <–This has yet to happen.
I submit my book for publication and even though I know I shouldn’t, I check sales all day. I wait for reviews to post even though it’s only just been published. I wait for the rave reviews and my bestseller ranking status, while at the same time expecting the one-star reviews and my writing world being ripped apart. Neither happen. It’s lukewarm, and I’m fine with it. I’ve survived.
But, wow, I’m tired. Release day is a long day. I spend the day online promoting the book, answering tweets and FB messages, and for my last release, I had a 12-hour release party. Releasing a book is a day to celebrate!
Someone bring me cake!
Once release day is done, it’s kind of a let down. I’m on a high all day. It’s exhilarating, and then it’s over. You hope sales continue, and reviews come in. People always ask how sales were … I wish I could shout to the world they were awesome and I’m the next Sophie Kinsella, but I don’t. (I mean, I can’t). Besides, it’s not like I ask how much you make at your job.
Next, I dive back into it. Another book. And then I’ll go through the entire process again, and again, and again. Through all the positive and negative reviews, through the pain-staking days and nights of writing and rewrites and revisions, I’ll keep going.
Because I LOVE it.
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