10 Things I Never Expected about Writing
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
1. How Non-Linear Writing Is
Like many people who have learned about the writing process in school, I thought it was fairly linear - you come up with an idea, write a first draft, check the spelling and grammar, change a few ideas, and there you go - you have a book! This is totally incorrect for most writers! The process looks a lot more like the image here.
2. Length of Time it Takes for Ideas to Formulate
I am currently two and a half years into writing my first book, a YA graphic novel, which I am learning to write, draw, and publish on my own. I am another few years away from publishing the book, and finally feel like I have a good enough idea of who the characters are and how the plot will unravel, that I feel confident and productive when writing. I had to learn a lot about the process, and allow my initial ideas to grow organically to make the story more layered and dynamic before I felt satisfied with writing it down. I've written an entire blog post on what it was like waiting for these ideas to come together: Writer's Block in my First Draft.
3. Amount of Continual Research
Great writers need to know what they are talking about and understand proper writing technique. Even though I didn't expect to do so much research, I don't mind because I love learning new things and seeking knowledge and skills. Between researching for characters and setting, themes associated with the story, and technique for writing and illustrating, there is no shortage of research to be done!
4. Time Spent on Marketing
Having decided to self-publish, I'm also responsible for self-marketing. This is a job I never ever would have expected myself doing. Writing, yes, I've always enjoyed writing. With marketing however, I have no prior experience or knowledge. Many hours are spent researching how to best go about it. I have tons to learn and improve on, but I think I'm off to an okay start.
5. Length of Time it Takes to Write a Scene
This links with the discovery of needing to let ideas formulate. All writers have their own process and strengths, and I've always been a fairly strong writer when it comes to academics, but narrative writing is totally different. I hope that writing quicker is something I will get better at in time. Currently, I think on each scene for a while before going to write it. Sometimes the first write is a success, and other times I just write something to get it down and have a rough version to move forward with.
6. How Much Effort Processing from Brain to Paper Is
This depends on the day and the scene, but I never knew what an effort it is to get what is pictured in my brain into the story. This goes for writing and illustrating, and I'm happy to have both mediums that I'm working with because sometimes it's easier to draw it out first, and other times it's easier to start with the script. Even other times, I've found writing as a narrative as a better direction to go, before converting to script. I have a blogpost all about that called Do You Write In Script Form? This is one aspect of writing for which I now have tremendous respect for professional and epic writers!
7. Variation from Draft to Draft
Any writer will tell you not to fret when working on your first draft, because they always get better. Though I kind of knew this, I'm impressed with how much the story evolves in each draft. When I wrote the first draft, there were parts that I knew I didn't like and would be eventually removed. There were some parts that I wanted to make work and just wasn't sure how the first time I wrote it down. Other parts, I thought I really liked and wanted in the story, and later on realized they weren't necessary. Each draft I finish, I feel more proud and accomplished - it's a great place to be.
8. When the Book Takes on a Life of Its Own
There have been times when I'm thinking about a scene and then a tiny voice in my head, one of my characters, will call out that I'm wrong and that's not how things would happen. They call out ideas to me like the story is already written and they can't believe I misremembered it. This sounds insane, but that's the way it is.
9. Inspiration Comes in the Most Unlikely Places and Times
Similar to the previous idea, there are times when changes in the plot or setting come up, and not because of an internal character yelling at me, but because of random inspiration. This might be from an unrelated conversation that sparks a twist in an idea, and often it is out in nature and I gain a shift in perspective in the way part of the story has been or is planned to be written. These are often some of my best ideas!
10. Growth of Skill Over Time
It goes without saying that the more you practice something, the better at it you become. I will have to post some photos soon of my first character drawings compared to now. They are so opposite and there is so much growth. I know the same can be said about my writing as well. I can't wait to share it with the world! This blog post, The True Failure is When You Stop Trying shares more about this journey of growth, and how gardening helped me believe in myself as a writer!