I have often been asked many questions regarding my writing. How long does it take you to write a book? Where do you get your ideas from? Is it hard for you to write? Do you enjoy writing? Do you take your time? So in this post, I will share with you how I get my full draft done. This is my way and how I get things done. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to finishing your first draft. It’s all about getting it done.
Having a new idea for a book can be exciting. For me, I’m always excited when I have new ideas, and I often tend to have more than one idea at the same time. It is impossible for me to have just one idea alone. I could look at an apple and an idea/inspiration could just come to me without me having to do anything. With all these ideas, I have a small brown book where I carry with me to keep my ideas in. It doesn’t matter how I write it down. It could be as brief as writing ‘looking at apple’ or ‘seeing apple dance’. Others might not understand what I’ve written, but it’s my own way of understanding it.
Taking the Pick
With all the flying ideas in my head, I choose one that I can see myself writing a story about. There are times when I can combine two, or more, different ideas into one. As a writer, I like my stories to be like movies. I am a huge movie fan, and I like my stories to be seen as something that could be played into movies. Don’t get me confused for being a screenwriter. I love writing books, and when readers read my works, I want them to be able to picture what is going on in their head, like the inside of their heads are playing a movie. If you know me as a writer since from the beginning, you would know where my tagline comes from.
“Every story plays a movie in the head.”
Now Write and Brave It
Once I’ve picked my idea, or ideas, I then think about the ending. I always think about the ending and have an idea as to how my story would end. This way, it helps me with the rest of the storyline. I don’t like to waste too much time thinking about what to write. I start writing the storyline in brief points for each chapter until more than halfway through the story. It doesn’t matter if I do not know what would happen in one chapter. I think hard and keep the ending in mind. It’s easy said than done, but by not thinking too much, I can allow my mind and the pen and paper to do the work. I also don’t just like to write in any notebooks. I like to write in good quality, fancy ones. I just like the feeling of it. But no matter how good quality or fancy the notebooks are, the writing itself is always messy, quick and over the place. This is what I call good brainstorming. After writing down the storyline points, I start to write the actual story entirely. I have also often been asked if writing the entire story via pen and paper would take up a lot of my time. The answer is no. I tend to write fast, and writing down helps to make my story grow. If I were to type it up on my laptop/computer straight away, my mind would freeze. It would not work. At this point when I’m writing the entire story, I don’t worry about the grammar or making it perfect. In fact, my writing at this point is over the place, and if someone were to read it, they wouldn’t understand what was going on. Only I could understand my own mess. The most important thing is to write the story. After drafting every chapter or two, I type what I’ve written onto my laptop/computer. This might seem like a lot of hassle, but it’s not. I can work faster this way than working straight from my laptop/computer. It doesn’t take me long to work on a chapter. Of course, sometimes I get writer’s block or I’m stuck as maybe the storyline for a chapter is not working out. That’s what the storyline brief points are for. I can change things around, and if need be, re-write a chapter, so long as I have the points to keep me on track. Once I’ve written close to halfway through the storyline, I finish with the rest of the brief points for the rest of the chapters until the end. In my opinion, the overall timescale should take no longer than three (or maybe four) months. This is because during this period, the mind is fresh with the storyline and ideas. But I feel that the longer I work on it, the less I will feel connected to the story, and therefore losing the touch with the storyline. A story will not work if there’s no passion towards it. And if there’s no passion, then the readers won’t be able to connect with the story.
(copyright material) – Draft for Who We Were
You can never expect to see a nicely written draft from me. I believe that the messier the draft, a better written story will come out of it, because it shows that the ideas are pouring out of the head. It’s all about getting the ideas down than having neat handwriting at this point.
(some of my fancy notebooks from Paperchase)
Now it’s time to polish the draft from its mess and make it as perfect as possible. Yes, it’s time to proofread and edit. This process should not be rushed, but of course, it shouldn’t take too long either. I have three ways for this process. Firstly, read the entire story and edit out what is not needed or doesn’t make sense. Here is where I fix the mess and make it work. Don’t be afraid to edit out words/sentences. My advice is that it’s always better to have a well written story than to have it judged by its quantity. Secondly, read the entire story again, except that this time, you pay attention to the grammar. And thirdly, read the entire story once again and see how you feel with everything polished. You can, of course, re-read the entire story several times more until you are happy with it. For me, I do not take more than a month for this process, or else, I will keep finding irrelevant mistakes to edit. It does happen.
Off to the Fairy Godmother
Once I’m happy, or satisfied, with the polished draft, it’s time to send it off to my fairy godmother, also known as my editor, or fairy god-editor. Every author, or writer who wishes to publish a book, should have their own fairy god-editor who will add their magical touch to the draft to make it a finished product. Believe me, any great authors out there have their very own fairy god-editors, because when it comes down to it, we can never see our own mistakes. That’s when the fairy god-editors comes in and give the draft some magic. I could have the option to just send my fairy god-editor my unpolished draft, but then it wouldn’t seem like it would be my writing when it comes to the finished product. Having a fairy god-editor look through my works will enable me to learn from my mistakes and become a better writer.
For me, it’s always important to stay healthy and have a clear head when writing, especially that I tend to work till late nights and have little sleep. If I’m distracted or in a foul mood, it would be impossible to write. And when I’m writing, I always make sure to have some food and coffee with me wherever I work. Never go hungry writing. I always make my writing space a comfortable and happy one as it relaxes my head. I like to work in bed while listening to nineties hip pop music during the drafting period or early stages of a book. I can’t work in a quiet environment or else my mind would wonder. Also, the distractions at this stage serves as an inspiration. And when it comes to the ‘serious’ polishing stage, I work at my office desk with no distractions. It is also a good idea to do some exercise. Nothing too extreme if you’re not a working out person. Trust me, it’s another way to relax the body and mind. For me, I like to run or fast walk for forty minutes to an hour five times a week. Lastly, it helps to have a long shower or bath. I have a remedy where I use my favourite organic shower gel and scrub three times a week where it relaxes me and puts my mind in a happy place.
Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to the stages of writing. This is my way. Happy writing!
For those of you who have followed me from the very beginning will know that it was a long road for me to build my publishing house. And in the end when it was finally done, I was excited. There were so many stories in my head that were swirling all at once like a tornado, ready to be published. At that time, I wanted to stand out as a different kind of publisher. But I didn’t know how. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed most of my inspiration has a common Chinese theme. It has always been right in front of me. I just never realized it.
I grew up in a Chinese-Malaysian family and was brought up in the English international field. However, my mother did not want me to lose touch of my Chinese roots, so at an early age, she would fascinate me with everything about the Chinese culture, including its culture, traditions, beliefs, myths and ancient legends. And when I began writing at an early age, I combined many of my then-already thriving imagination with those from my Chinese inspired imagination.
So it wasn’t until recently that I found a niche in the publishing market, and that’s turning my publishing house into one that mainly publishes and represent stories of both English and Asian Chinese themes. It is the best of both worlds, just like my background. Although I am open to other genres, there is a limitation.
I am always finding new ways to improve on anything that has to do with writing and publishing, and I and glad one of that was finding the perfect niche to my publishing house. I hope my fellow readers will continue to join me on my forever ongoing writing and publishing journey and enjoy the stories I have to offer.
Until next time, happy reading with love!