How Do You Write: Your Writing Process

Pearl Harbor
When I write a book like this, I do part of the research, create an outline, rough the book, then finish the research as I rewrite. But this isn’t the method I use for every book.

I recently read a post by Darcy Pattison on her writing process and how rewriting can vary from book to book.

Do you have a set process?  Do you always outline?  Or always draft the entire book before writing?  Or do you have to craft a perfect chapter before moving on to the next?

I’ve found that when I write nonfiction, my process varies a lot.

When I write for Redline, I first turn in a sample chapter and an outline.  That means that I have to do enough research to get a feel for the topic and draft that outline.  Ideally, I would do all of the research first but this is usually due 2 weeks or less after I sign the contract.  I don’t have time to do all of the research.  As a result, I read 12 or so sources, rough my outline and then get to work on chapter 1.  I get this chapter as close to perfect as I can and then due a first rough draft of as much of the rest as possible while I’m waiting for feedback on chapter 1.  Sometimes this means typing in FIND OUT WHEN THIS ENDED or WHAT WAS THE CITY NORTH OF THIS ONE CALLED but I keep moving forward.  I’ll go back and look things up as I smooth it all out in draft #2. But that isn’t how I always work.

I’m currently drafting out a picture book about barf.  Yep, upchuck, vomitus, the technicolor rainbow.  It started out as an early middle grade but has become an older picture book.  I’m writing it one spread at a time.  I’ve already done a lot of reading but there are always details that you realize you need only as you start to write.  This time, I’m not leaving notes for myself.  I’m stopping to find the information that I need so that I can create a solid spread before moving on to the next.

When I drafted my prayer picture book, I didn’t do much reading at all.  Okay, that isn’t entirely correct.  I did market research in that I read what was already published.  Then I outlined my book.  Then I roughed it.  Then I did the research.  I had recently co-taught a class on this topic so I knew it well enough to at least create a draft.

As you can see, I don’t have one writing process.  Instead, I try to fit my process to the circumstance.  How do you work?