Daily Scribe, Drafting, and a Writer’s Process

Before joining the inner sanctum of the writer’s circle, my knowledge on the ritualistic nature of writing equaled my expertise in building a flux capacitor for a DeLorean time machine. 

Now, I know more. About writing, not time travel.  Brenda's Room

Writing occurs sitting on the bed with the MacBook warming the tops of my thighs. The desk—home to my favorite writing reference books—and a straight-backed chair, collect dust. Two bookshelves house the remaining collection of dictionaries and other books on craft. For late night writing and a glass of wine, I sit in an oversized chair with my feet atop the matching ottoman. But most of my writing happens elsewhere.

The day job takes me away from the sanctuary of my room. Working outside of my comfort zone pushed me to adapt. Thus, I write where I am. Scribing can happen during the morning commute, between meetings, on a city bench, on my lunch hour, on the plane, or in the hotel. Portability is the key to my output, but it’s not optimal. If my train pulls into the station mid-sentence, it’s left unfinished until I return to it. There’s good and bad to mobile versatility.

I escaped the clutches of routine, but defining my writing process took me on an Eat, Pray, and Love, transcendental but agonizingly long journey.

Shopping for a writing technique is a lot like looking for a new pair of jeans. You carry twenty pairs into a dressing room. One after another you slip the jeans over your hips. Too small. You try again. Too tight. Again. Too long. And again. Too much Spandex. Defeated, you blame yourself. What’s wrong with me, why can I find anything to fit? Sound familiar?  I tried on several established writing methods, read books and blog posts on craft, made notes. The techniques I slipped on were robust and worked for the creators of the process, but they didn’t fit my creative style perfectly.

I attended workshops and classes, met fellow writers. Several had successfully defined their approach, others, like me, were still searching. Which technique should I use? Went unanswered. Nothing I tried worked. Overloaded with information, none helpful, my frustration and uncertainty mounted. No way I tested fit me just so.

I gave up and went back to filling blank pages with words. At one hundred thousand forty-seven words, in third person limited, I finished the first draft of my novel. Eight or nine rewrites later Nothing Is Lost In Loving, ninety-five thousand words, first person, present, hit the wire.

The second novel came with less struggle, but my pursuit of a simple, repeatable process remained out of reach. The second novel came with less struggle, but my pursuit of a simple, repeatable process remained out of reach. Desperate for a semi-methodical approach to follow when I started my third book I decided to cobbled together three disparate techniques, each tailored to work for me. It’s a hybrid, a plus-size style that slides smoothly over my hips. It works (worked).

I start by plotting out the story using Aeon Timeline, which is an intuitive tool that allows me to create and edit on the fly. After, I use screenwriting techniques to flush out the story’s details, which requires more brain power and long walks. Finally, I am ready to fast draft the novel a la NaNoWriMo. Two months later, I have one hundred thousand words, give or take. It’s Brenda’s How to Write a Draft in Two Months.

I recently finished the second edit of my latest novel, From LA to London. Lesson learned: my fast drafting technique needs tweaking. Every day I learn something new about writing. It’s an organic process.

Nothing is ever lost in learning unless it keeps the writer from the act of writing.

Do you follow a stringent writing process? 


I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

5 thoughts on “Daily Scribe, Drafting, and a Writer’s Process

  1. I wouldn’t call my process stringent, it has flexibility, which I need, but it’s definitely tailored to fit just me.

    I don’t fast draft (and I’m fascinated by people who can). Even though I outline, each scene still takes the time it takes. But, I’m learning I can push myself and write just a little bit faster.

  2. I’m a plotter-pantser combined, what one person loving called having an “organic” writing style. Well, as an old hippie, that makes total sense! Interestingly, I didn’t feel comfortable with my style until after I tried writing a film script. That process made me hone in a way I hadn’t previously, and really helped me find my voice. However, and isn’t there always a caveat?, my style continues to unfold. Who knows where I’ll end up? Oh, probably thumbing a ride on the creativity highway –

  3. I think every book is different, which means the process is different too. I’ve learned to be flexible and do what the draft calls for. Sometimes that’s writing out of order. Other times it’s binge writing about 10K in a sitting. And other times still, it’s writing a little and going back to revise a little before moving on. It’s a crazy profession to say the least.

  4. You are so right. Writing is not a one-size fit all process. I’ve struggled for years to figure out when to write, why I’m not writing, etc. and I’ve never reached a definite answer. I think the writing process is an unsolvable theorem like Schrödinger’s Cat. I’ve stopped trying to figure it out and have joined the “whatever works for you” club because I’m ADD and have trouble with routine and without it. Getting distracted is my kryptonite. Still, I managed to complete a 65 K word memoir as well as several drafts of novels. Sometimes for me, too much time is a worse condition than having too little time. When you have a fixed schedule, you fight for every minute of writing time.

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