Anna Shinoda

My Writing Process: Visions, Revisions and Hoarding Bad Writing

I’m not the kind of girl who outlines when I write novels. When I was in college, I studied both interpersonal communications and speech communications and the speech side was all about the outline. Later when I worked in PR, I learned the best way to write a good press release was to slap down words in a formulaic fashion then watch as journalists regurgitated my words in their own reviews, previews and interviews. So I know how to use an outline, I know how to use a formula, and I know the benefits that can come from both. But when I sit down to write a novel, the best way for me to get from one page to another is to write the story as the thoughts come. Sometime this is in chronological order. Most of the time it is not.

My best writing comes to me in visions. I’ll be on a walk or taking a shower or gardening or driving when BOOM! out of nowhere comes a fictional scene playing out as real as any of my memories. When this happens it is magical. The details are so strong, the feelings that need to be conveyed are so clear I can’t help but to clutch onto them, begging them to stay until I can get them down on paper. These scenes are the ones that stick in the manuscript, revision after revision after revision.

A month ago, my agent challenged me to write the first draft of my new novel in 30 days. This meant less waiting for amazing story visions to appear on clouds of gold. It also meant moving forward on the novel – no going backwards, no stopping to critically pick over everything I just wrote. Since the month is up, I can officially say that at this point in my life with all that I have going on (small children, touring husband, obligations that aren’t so fun as well as the ones that are), writing a complete first draft in four weeks is just not possible for me. However the challenge did get me into the mode of writing everyday, moving forward without revising, and putting words down even if there are no visions to guide me.

How much of what I’ve written in the past month will make the final draft? Who knows. For Learning Not to Drown, I currently have 53 pages that have been cut out of the novel and moved to a trash document. I justify keeping this writing in a trash file with the unrealistic dream that some of it might be used for something else. Although, I’m pretty sure that I’m just hoarding bad writing.

When draft one of this new book is done, I’ll start revising and then I’ll let the super-organized, over-thinking part of my brain take over and remove clichéd dialogue, overdramatic scenes and anything else that belongs in the garbage.

For now, it’s time to keep writing and get this draft done. Without an outline.

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16 thoughts on “My Writing Process: Visions, Revisions and Hoarding Bad Writing

  1. thegluelpfan on said:

    Ideas come to me very often in the form of visions like you,but I do get the occasional inspiration from dreams…I like that one better actually because most of the time my dreams make little sense but they have a great meaning somewhere below the weirdness. I do tend to go back to things I’ve written and get overly critical but I’ve learned to control that in the past year or so. I wish someone gave me a deadline to finish my current stories,because I really need that push to write every day.Anyway I’m really looking forward to reading Learning Not To Drawn! 🙂


  2. That’s the amazing and awful part about creativity, it all just hits you at the most random moments and you just got to make it all stick some how! And they’re some of the best ideas ever!


  3. YoMarquesLP on said:

    I gotta agree with is. I write now and then, just for fun and because I love it, and the best ideas come out of nowhere. I wanna thank you for sharing this with us, we can see how hard it is to write something, but I’m wishing you the best of luck and I can’t wait to read your book! I’m glad you’ve been able to write everyday though, and I hope you’ll be able to keep that flow and that awesome ideas will come to you. Good luck! 🙂


  4. Oh yeah and my beta is from a different continent then me so we clash when it comes to grammar and spelling, but I think it’s a neat way for both of us to learn about each others way of writing the English Language. It’s pretty funny and amusing when we have to go over where a comma goes or what an expression means.


  5. At least you got the motivation going with the challenge to writing every day, and you accomplished a lot from it. Not reaching your target due to life hassles and other things is ok. The important thing is that you accomplished a lot within that month as far as writing even if it’s very little. Even the littlest things are the biggest accomplishments.

    For me with writing I like to write down my stories on paper. When I do that I have no idea what chicken scratch I even put down. When I transfer to the computer that’s when I realize things start to make sense. I swear if I showed my beta the stuff I have written down on paper she would shoot me, and go in rage face mode. My work on paper isn’t the best thing, but I like it; because it’s a starting point.

    Half the time when I wrote stuff down on paper I always mixed up the tenses, or the sentences made absolutely no sense. In a way I guess the paper writing is my own personal outline and the computer is my final draft. Now my beta is going to read this, and think I am nuts as usual lol.

    Keep up the great work and keep with that motivation! I can’t wait to read your book!


  6. Sorry, posted the comment below accidently before I could finish it.

    -call an intuitive writer. My process is pretty much the same. I write down everything that hits my mind and later on -click click click- everything that seems to be to much or not good enough gets erased. And it’s also hard for me to put it finally in the trash. But sometimes it is very usefull to keep stuff you consider not good. By reading it again and again, you grow a lot


  7. First of all, I have to say that I’m looking very forward to reading something you’ve written. Everytime you talk about writing it amazes me because you not only seem to think about it a lot. You also seem to life and love it. And that’s something only we writers can understand. Although Calliope sometimes seems to be a bit moody.
    You discribed how a thought hits you and you feel winged. I know this pretty good. When something hits me all of a sudden, my fingers start to tickle, my head gets addled and my eyes go wet. It’s one of the best feelings possible.
    It’s also very impressing that you are somebody I would


  8. I don’t use outlines either. I’m still in college, and whenever I have a GE class like Composition or Creative writing, it is almost a World War between the professor and I. A lot make outlines part of the grade, and that’s just not fair. I like to write what comes to me, edit as I go and once I like what I have- edit again. But each chapter is free to play out however it wants to. It makes me more determined to define this style knowing you do, too. Best to you and your novel, Mike and your little ones. Thanks for keeping connected!


  9. Thank you for the inspiration! I’m eager to get back to writing! Did you see the movie “The Words”? It’s a good one! Temptation and passion of writing.


  10. goodnight would like to invite you to read my new post and give me your opinion of writer I have only 15 and I want to write very well


  11. tensh_iie on said:

    Reblogged this on 10Ch_iie and commented:
    My writing process: Vision, Revision and Hoarding if bad writing


  12. 30 days for a draft?
    That’s definitely a challenge, but my respect’re a great writer and I read your new book 🙂


  13. leoama12345 on said:

    U Can do it! and it will become fruitful, each and every minute u spent on it! Keep going!


  14. >>The details are so strong, the feelings that needs to be conveyed are so clear I can’t help but to clutch onto them, begging them to stay until I can get them down on paper. <<
    Those are usually also the scenes, that are the greatest fun to write and where it's the most exciting to see the reaction of others to them, aren't they?

    Reading that entry and relating to it surprisingly much really kinda made my otherwise pretty stressy day/week(s), in which I didn't find much time to write or do anything creative at all. Thanks for sharing that little glimpse into your writing process 🙂


  15. writingscarz on said:

    I’m not an outline user either. I’m more of a, I sit down with a generic intention of what will happen in the scene/chapter but then whatever comes out is actually what happens. I often joke that the stories write themselves and my characters have a life of their own, I’m just their victim, helplessly writing down their misadventures. Love the blog post, I’ve always found it fascinating how we (as writers) all have a different process.


  16. That happens to me a lot, out of nowhere a idea would pop up. There are times I do not like it. To keep thinking of stories to write even when your not done with other stories… and at times a story that you thought about does not take off, or its not until a while or so.


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