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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Author Insight: Writing Behind the Scenes

If someone had a behind-the-scenes pass to observe your writing process what would they see?

"I tend to binge write, where I sit down and crank out 5k at a time, usually at night. It’s mostly just me, planted on the couch with my MacBook Air, fingers flying and ignoring the world. My husband once stopped me and said, 'I don’t understand how you’re coming up with anything that actually makes sense over there.' Well, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least it’s words on a page that I can start revising!" - Lauren Morrill, author of Meant to Be.

"Many hours of near-motionless longhand page-filling. Occasional forays to the kitchen for carrots, crackers and peppermint tea, or to throw out one empty biro and pick up another. The left side of my hair becoming more and more disheveled as I pause and scratch my head for inspiration. I think the watcher would fall asleep fairly smartly." - Margo Lanagan, author of The Brides of Rollrock Island

"General sadness. No. My process is something I’m working on. The other day I wrote from 11 in the morning to 9 at night. But some days I look at stuff on the internet all day. Right now I’m trying to cut the internet out of the process. It’s so easy to tab over to some interesting article when a scene gets difficult." - Dan Krokos, author of False Memory

"It would make the world's most excruciating reality show. The player wakes up early. Often by 4:30 a.m., but certainly before sunrise. And, strangely, she does not use an alarm. She just … gets up. Puts on a hideous bathrobe that reminds her ever so much of the one her grandmother wore. She makes coffee. She sits down at her computer and writes as the sun rises behind her. She tells her children to go back to bed several times. Seriously, though, there is a lot of time spent at the keyboard. I do like to outline, write, outline some more, and sweat my way through a draft. The first draft is by far the hardest part. I outline to remove as much doubt and fear as possible, but I'm not the kind of person who can figure the whole thing out without spending some time figuring out the voices of the characters, and I do this by putting them in interesting situations that I suspect will be in the book. I have a great group of friends who are willing to read drafts (including my agent). And I just keep working until I can't." - Martha Brockenbrough, author of Devine Intervention

"A lot of sitting around. Stops and starts. Digression to research. Cups and cups of green tea, coffee, and occasionally red wine. More than one day where I doubt myself. And then the glorious day when I think it's working. Followed by a revision letter from agent, weeping, chocolate, and a repeat of the above." - Joy Peble, author of Anastasia Forever

"They’d probably be bored out of their minds.  I sit.  I ponder.   I type.  I sip a beverage…Occasionally, I pet a cat." - Greg Leitich Smith, author of Chronal Engine

"A lot of funny faces -- I have a tendency to mimic my characters' expressions as I write them. It's a little awkward when I'm writing in a coffee shop." - Kirsten Hubbard, author of Wanderlove.

"Just a bunch of chaos. It's not like I have any schedule whatsoever. My desk is cluttered with paper and junk and My Little Ponies and Barbie stuff. Every once in awhile I find a few minutes to write stuff down. Rarely." - Cyn Balog, author of Touched

"There’s me and a laptop and lots of typing, then staring out the window, then more typing. Once the first draft is born, things start getting interesting. Revision for me involves lots of different kinds of paper, and pens and markers in a rainbow of colors. I use post-it notes on sheets of foam board to lay out my books chapter by chapter, I make mind maps on huge sheets of artist’s drawing paper to get a handle on particular plot problems or confusing relationships, I outline, sometimes by hand, sometimes on the computer. Then I start my second draft, often from a blank page." - Dayna Lorentz, author of No Safety in Numbers

"It would be dull, like watching a coffee maker percolate. You might be better off watching my brother – he sells insurance and sometimes interesting people walk through the door." - James Preller, author of Before You Go

"They’d see me with my hair up in a messy bun as I sit on the front porch in a tank-top and holey jeans while staring blankly at my computer for hours. Occasionally I do type. Unfortunately, when I’m writing, I’m pretty boring." - Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits

"For Love and Leftovers, they would have seen me jotting down words from song lyrics, audio books, and poems on whatever piece of paper I could find at the moment. I used these to inspire my writing. Then I handwrote my poems in notebooks, and later typed into Word (totally out of order.) From there, I made a stack of 3 x 5 cards with one poem title on each card and shuffled them into chronological order to create the story. After that, they’d see me rewriting and filling in blanks." - Sarah Tregay, author of Love and Leftovers

Stop by Thursday to find out what you'd see if you could go behind the scenes while the rest of the authors are writing!


  1. Hey, just saw this was up. Thanks for the opportunity to talk shop, as it were; I'm curious to see how other writers answer the same questions that I avoided.

    James Preller

  2. Awesome responses. I love this series, and being able to peek into other writers' minds.