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How a Discovery Writer Learnt to Read Maps (part 1)

PlottingI started out as a discovery writer, setting off on the journey of my stories without any kind of plan, and with very little, or even no idea where I was headed. It was exciting, like exploring. It was also slow going, and the editing stage could turn out to be pretty epic. But it worked for me. At least, it did then.

I shunned plotting, scorned it even, insisting that it ‘didn’t work for me’. And I was right, it didn’t. At least, not then. In fact, there was one year that I decided to hit November’s NaNoWriMo event with a fully plotted novel. I worked on it throughout October, and faced November 1st with confidence. I had a map for my journey, I knew where I was going. But, once I had hit around 15,000 words, the characters took over, and pulled the story off in a direction completely unrecognisable from my plan. All I could think, was that I’d wasted an entire month plotting, only to end up with a completely different story.

In 2015, I started publishing. I started up my own imprint, purchased a pack of ISBNs, and suddenly, writing wasn’t just a hobby anymore. And I had to get serious about it.

I started out publishing two books a year. It took me, from conception, to hitting publish, 6 months to produce a book. But the more I learnt about the business of indie publishing, the more I realised the benefits of upping production. And I know indie authors who are releasing a book every month. Over the last two years, I’ve gone from publishing two books a year, to publishing four.

I’ve had a lot of writers asking me how I do it recently. I’ve had people call me ‘lucky’ to be capable of it, for being a fast writer. But, you know what? I’m not a particularly fast writer. I’m just a hard-working writer. And it has nothing to do with luck.

But people don’t see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. They don’t see the sacrifices, the lost sleep, the stress to hit pre-order deadlines. They don’t see the work I’ve done on honing my skills, on tweaking my approach, all the experimentation it took to find the perfect formula for me. They don’t see the daily 5am wake-ups, or the notebook balanced on my knee whenever I sit down, no matter where I am.

I have a very specific strategy in place that really has taken a long time to perfect. But it works for me, at least, it does at the moment. Because that’s the thing with writing; a strategy that works for me now, might not do so in five years. It’s all about being adaptable, about being willing to try new things, being open to changing things up.

This blog post is pretty long already, so I’ll write a second one explaining my strategy, showing how I mange to write and publish four books a year. Check out How a Discovery Writer Learnt to Read Maps (part 2)

Insecure Writer's Support GroupThis post was written as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

12 thoughts on “How a Discovery Writer Learnt to Read Maps (part 1)”

  1. I love your advice today. Hard work and persistence is key, and yes, dedication to hours and hours of time spent marketing, editing, promoting, no one has any idea. You should be proud of all of your successes. Happy IWSG Day 🙂

  2. I tried the work-hard approach (as you call it) and I landed up with a bad case of burn out. I didn’t write for six month and wondered if I ever would again. I’m happy for you. You have the ability to work hard/write hard and prosper.

    Not all of us can do what you do. ‘Nuff said.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    1. Absolutely, no approach works for everyone, it’s all about finding what works for you, where you’re happy. Self care is more important than producing books, and we too often forget to take care of ourselves first. We’re also not in competition with other writers, not part of a race, and we all have to find our own way to work. I love that about writing; how we all have our own approaches, and even those approaches are fluid and always changing.

    1. I can’t imagine doing one a month either! Perhaps if I didn’t have children, or any other responsibilities! I dunno, I drag my heels when I edit, so I’m not sure I could ever produce books quite that fast.

  3. Caroline Mitchell dictates her novels which helps her write loads of novels a year. i’ve tried it up I think my heath made it harder… As for my writing speed none existant!

    1. I know a few writers who dictate, although it’s not something I’ve tried myself. As I understand, it takes a while to ‘train’ your dictation software! At the end of the day, we all write at our own pace, and it’s not a race. It’s just about finding your sweet spot, and what works for you. Whether you’re writing ten books a year, or a book every ten years, being happy is the only thing that matters.

  4. Woot for finding what works for you! I used to think I was a pantser, but then I started spending more time thinking about where things were going and realized that in my series, I needed to have a better grasp on the plot. So then I made a plan to get me through this book…and yeah, totally deviated.

    I, too, am looking forward to reading your strategy, even though I know I wouldn’t be able to apply it to myself. It’s just fun to see people succeed!

    1. I find it absolutely fascinating reading about how other writers work. The fact that we all work so differently makes meeting other writers so much fun!

      I’ve definitely found plotting helps now that I’m writing series of books, but I still leave plenty of wriggle room for my characters to throw in some curve balls!

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