Awhile back, six rather talented authors did a blog chain to discuss their writing process. It was interesting, to say the least, to see the differences in the way Tawna Fenske, Sean Ferrell, Cynthia Reese, Kiersten White, Linda Grimes, and Nelsa Roberto all formulate their novels. Upon reading all of them, I found my own (current) process aligns more closely with Cynthia's than anything. She's a heavy outliner, and my Scene Development document kind of smacks of an outline without actually being an outline. Well, that and my propensity for research is so well-known around the Interwebs that certain people take advantage of me being able to find information quicker than a dog with its tail on fire runs to the well (I have no idea where that metaphor came from).
Anyway, reading that blog chain got me thinking about how my writing process actually developed. The answer? Rather haphazardly.
My history as a writer can be traced back to age 9, when I wrote my first (horrible) short story in a short-story series that never went anywhere. This would be the same short story series idea that stuck with me throughout high school (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but with Druids!), and I might turn it into a novel when I get a chance. After all, if the concept's stuck with me for this many years it's got to have the germ of something good there, right? (I haven't written anything with that MC for nearly a decade and I still remember her character history and the plot of her major story).
I started off as a hardcore pantser. I eschewed planning in any way, shape, or form in favor of just writing and seeing where the story took me. As time went on, and I started moving more into fantasy worlds, I discovered that I needed to do some research to figure out the things that I didn't know. The story that would eventually become SON OF MAGIC started off as one of those pantser tales where I made it all up as I went. But, as I got deeper into the story and started to write completed drafts of subsequent versions (I think there's a total of 7 different versions stuffed in a box somewhere), I realized there was no way I could possibly remember all the character arcs or plot points I needed to in order to keep myself consistent throughout the entire story.
So I started planning a little bit at a time. Notes here, an outline there. Until finally, last year, I read Susan R. Mills's series on Donald Maass's The Fire In Fiction. I also purchased his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, and discovered upon devouring both that "wait a minute, planning the thing out ahead of time makes so much more sense!" Of course, we've established previously that I like to think of things in a semi-logical manner. I say semi-logical because it makes sense in my head but generally doesn't do so when I explain it to other people ('course that could just be because I'm weird, but whatever).
Long post short (too late, I know), the development of a writing process or anything approaching one doesn't happen overnight. I don't write the same way now that I did when I was 15, or even the same way I did when I was 20. Of course the standards of my writing and the quality of it have improved through constant usage, but the process itself -- the background that allows the words to flow -- has also grown and evolved into something approaching what I can actually call a process. And I'll echo the talented authors linked to at the top of this post -- my process is not your process. What works for you, works for you.
But I am curious, dear readers, what stages did you go through before you found your process groove?