I started writing my first novel when I was twelve. From my amateur scribblings to the writer I am today, much has changed in how I approach writing.
In the beginning, I wrote by hand, in a notebook. This is not surprising since it was the early 2000s and we only had a shared family computer at home. Once a story developed enough, I would then type out a draft on the computer during summer vacation. I kept up this system when I started writing Elisabeth and Edvard - The Siblings’ Tale. I wrote the first draft for this fantasy fairy tale retelling outdoors, under the shade of a lovely tree, during one month of blissful French summer. After returning home to South Africa, I set the handwritten manuscript aside and pretty much forgot about it. But the story continued to develop in my mind. I would daydream scenes over and over again, getting down to the minutest details of the interactions between the characters.
Years later, I came across the dusty notebook again while I was clearing out, and thankfully I had a little spare time to work through the manuscript and type it out. The daydreaming took off again with a vengeance and I really formulated the scenes and setting in minute detail, writing it all down as I got the chance.
I moved countries again, and this time I went through the manuscript again, editing as I went. When I was satisfied, I asked my sisters to take a look at it. They enjoyed the story, so I got the guts up to ask my mum. She sent back my manuscript with red ink all over. Thankfully, my mum and I have a much better relationship now that I’m older and we have half the world separating us. So I didn’t allow her edit to discourage me. Instead, I learned from it. I improved my work again. Then, I set it all aside again and carried on writing other things. Back to the same loop again of writing, daydreaming and editing.
Almost a year later, I took it up again and poked my nose further out the door, daring to get a few more people from my close circle to read the novel that now is Elisabeth and Edvard - The Siblings’ Tale. The feedback, again, was overwhelmingly positive and I really felt boosted. But, still, I did not feel comfortable with actually going ahead and publishing. That was something for a future me. My mum kept egging me on, dropping a suggestion here or there that I should take the step to publish - and I continued to put it off. Instead, I worked on other projects that had been sitting around for as long, if not longer.
With my other projects, though, there was no coherence. I would write a scene as it popped into my head, jumping from place to place, not writing in accordance with the narrative that is very clear in my own mind. I’d write a chapter here or there, bouncing back and forth, but not really making any progress.
My writings led me back to Elisabeth and Edvard, and I eventually put together the courage a few months ago, to take the next step. I weighed my options and decided self-publishing. I joined the Self-Publishing School, and thank goodness for that, because it improved my writing. It also helped me improve my system for editing. My writing process is a wholly different experience now.
I am currently working on a new series which links into Elisabeth and Edvard through the character, Viola Alerion (you’ll have to wait to meet her). This WIP is unfolding in such a different way from how Elisabeth and Edvard came into being. I wrote an outline this time - that’s a first. And now I write deliberately, in the order the reader will experience. I sort through my thoughts and daydreams while walking in the forest. Combining this creative process with physical exercise is proving to be really helpful. I find things flow so much better when I then sit down to write. New ideas come thick and fast and I just have to jot them down briefly when I come home. Then, I look at these notes when I sit down to write and it all just flows wonderfully.
I am curious to see how things will develop further over the coming months as I adapt my writing process, and I look forward to sharing my new insights some time in the future.
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