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Getting Your Book Done: My Process

By Mollie Cox Bryan

I sometimes hesitate to give writing advice because every writer’s creative process is unique. Often, it’s the result of years of trying different ways that fit. Mine has changed a great deal from when I first started. This is what works for me, now, though it may change when something in my life changes. Try this process. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else. There are no hard and fast rules about the creative process. Finding your own way is part of the struggle, yes, but it’s also part of the joy. For purposes of this blog post, let’s assume that you already have a regular writing practice.

  1. Break it down. Novels are huge, but thinking of them as huge doesn’t help. Commit to writing small chunks every day. One hundred words a day or 1,000 words a day. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the commitment.

  2. Make yourself accountable. This can be tricky if you’re alone. But if you have a group of writing friends, or just a group of friends that you report to everyday about your progress, it helps. Check in everyday. I have a Facebook group of readers that I check in with everyday when a book is in progress.

  3. Keep moving. As you progress in your story, keeping moving forward. Each day, when you sit down to write, don’t read the previous chapter. If you must read a bit, just read the last paragraph from the previous day’s work. Don’t make corrections. It’s not helpful to the creative process to bring your editor-brain in, yet.

  4. Finish your first draft this way. It doesn’t matter how long it is, how many run-on sentences there are, or misspellings. The first draft is messy. It’s meant to be a creative flow. Just get in down on paper.

  5. Take some time away from it. Let it stew. While you’re waiting, start your next book, blog, garden, or clean your house from top to bottom. Then go back to it with fresh eyes.

  6. After you’ve fished your second (or third) draft, it’s time to get an outside opinion. Hopefully, you have a group of trusted writer friends, or reader friends. Listen to their reaction with an open mind. Ultimately, it’s your book, so it’s up to you what changes, if any to make.

  7. Now is the time to bring in the editor-brain. Polish your manuscript until it shines.

  8. By the end of this process, you will have a manuscript read to shop around.

As far as getting an agent, and getting published, well, those are subjects best left to another blog post. First, write, polish, polish, polish. Then worry about everything else.

Friends, I’ve just released my eighth mystery novel. Comment below for a chance to win MACRAME MURDER.

As the head of a bustling crafting retreat, Cora Chevalier could use a break of her own. So she and her creative cohorts temporarily swap small-town Indigo Gap for the Sea Glass Island Craft Retreat, where they teach classes and create beachy crafts like shell mosaics and sea glass chimes. Cora and her boyfriend Adrian are enchanted by their surroundings—especially the stunning wedding and blissful newlyweds they encounter on the beach. But awe becomes shock when the bride turns up dead the next day . . . The woman’s death appears to be the result of a severe jellyfish sting. But when it’s revealed that she was murdered and Adrian becomes a suspect, Cora must hitch the real culprit to the crime—and fast. Because it just might take everything she has to crack a case more twisted than her most complex macramé knot! Includes crafting tips!

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