That Thing You Do Before Your Write

I have been attempting to become more active in the writing community. This has led me to engage in more conversations on Twitter and around the internet involving writing. I want to learn as much as I can, while at the same time spreading around the knowledge to others as much as possible.

Thus, came about the writing process. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important processes that a writer can get down. But there is something significant that I see so extensively throughout blogs that I feel compelled to point it out.


I would argue that there are as many ways to write a novel as you can think of. More importantly, there is YOUR way.

I want to focus on the way that I write a novel. Not only will this give you a delicious look into my haphazard mind, but it may spark some new idea of your own.

When I write, the first step for me is coming up with an idea. I look at this less like a step, and more of a happenstance. It is simply a thought. A feeling. Many writers out there will understand what I mean. It is kind of like those cartoons where the light bulb goes off above the character’s head. I never feel pressure to come up with an idea. Why?

Because to me writing is fun.

I do it because I want to create worlds. I want to tell a story. I don’t know if I could put so much time into something that I didn’t find enjoyable. This is why you will never find me sitting around forcing myself to think of a plot or a story arc.

“But, Stephan, shouldn’t you follow the (enter last amount you heard) steps to writing a novel?”

The answer to that, my dearest reader, is no.

The reason the answer is no, is a skosh more complicated. The first step in my writing process is not a step at all because if I don’t have an idea slowly budding in the back of my mind, then there is no story to begin with. I guess you could say that the first step of my writing process is deciding which ridiculously amazing idea floating around in my mind is bursting to come out first.

For example. I wrote an anecdotal parenting guide a few years ago. It was back when I didn’t have a single thought of being an author. I used to journal, in a way. I would write down little stories about my children, so I could look back on them and remember what it was like. Then one day it hit me. Just hit me. It burst through my living room wall like the Kool-Aid guy and hit me.

I would make it into a book. And I must say, it was the best idea ever. I had so much fun, but it was also hard. I had to do tons of research about how to write a book. I had to make sure my editing was on point. It took me out of my comfort zone. And most importantly, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

Now that is an example of where I already had a few thoughts down on paper. One thing led to another, and I kind of fell into a book. What happens when you don’t have notes and other things to go off?

Enter the other side of my mind: The pantser.

Many of you have undoubtedly heard me talk of a YA fantasy that I am currently querying. But let’s take a step back and understand the process. Link of Fates was a novel long in the making. When I was a junior in high school, I sat down one day and typed up the first three chapters. Did I plan it? Did I plot story arcs? Did I care what other people thought?


I just wrote for the joy of writing. Its like Bob Ross and his happy little trees. I have happy little nouns and verbs. Pronouns and adjectives. Anyways, they all seemed to find their way onto the same page and next thing you know I have three chapters.

So, life happens, and I put it away and forgot about it. Or did I?

Remember that idea, floating in the back of your head that you must pick out and write about? That is the one, my friend. And for seven long years it kept coming back and back and back and back and I finally listened to it. Earlier this year, I finally wrote the last twenty-one chapters. Talk about a long process.

Or is it?

The writing process and especially the first step is one of the most important. It is crucial to your story. The idea. The spark. The butterfly feeling in your stomach when you get up and can’t wait to put black down on the white paper.

There is not one way to write a novel, because we are all different. We think differently. We are different. In that light, it would make sense that we all write differently. Other than that, I will tell you that you must write no matter what other people say. There will always be a Debbie downer. There will always be someone who thinks your idea is stupid or overused.

You do you. And don’t you dare let someone tell you that you can’t do something.