Tag Archives: writing

Part 2: The Book Writing Process

“I think it would be very educational (not to mention fascinating) for you to guide us blog readers through the process of writing a book. From the initial idea to the finished product, step-by-step.” A blog reader

To recap, I shared in Part 1 the beginning of the writing process:

  1. Ideas
  2. Outline
  3. Character Profiles
  4. Pre-Book Trial Run

 

The fifth and next step is very important.

First Draft! It’s with great excitement mixed with trepidation that I begin writing. WILL this story actually form? My heart fills with gratitude as the words come, and I quickly become engaged in the story. How can I ever doubt?

I use Pages for writing. I have a document with my complete outline (which I’ve saved multiple revisions of as I created it), and I begin a new document for my book. I copy a portion of the outline INTO my book document, so I don’t have to switch back and forth as I write. I can refer to it and then delete the outline portions as I write them. I love having a whole section done so I can copy in the next part! I save my work to iCloud, and I also save revisions by duplicating the document and changing the number.

The goal of the first draft is to get the story written. Period. The fine-tuning doesn’t happen right now! I become attached to my characters. I picture my scenes as if I was right there in them. I love seeing the story take shape, and I praise the Lord for His overwhelming grace!

Writing!

I find a quiet environment to write in, preferably away from my normal desk. With Sunflower’s Christmas Miracle, I wrote a lot of it at Joseph’s house, when he was away on a trip. I’ve written Moody books on the bus (when it was stationary!), at Joseph’s house before he got married, etc. For my current book, I wrote most of it in our spare room, with a few days at my grandma’s house when we had roofers here.

I turn my phone on airplane mode and turn off WiFi. I can’t stress how important this is! My phone can be such a distraction. Going for several hours at a time without checking e-mail or texts gives undivided attention to writing. Even when I take a break, it’s better to chat with a family member then turn on my phone. If there’s something to research, I generally mark it in my document, because I KNOW if I turn my phone on, I’ll be distracted. I’m not perfect keeping it on airplane mode, but I am very happy when I do!

Ellie is an awesome buddy and enjoys napping while I write, but sometimes she wants to play!

I make writing a huge priority. When God gives me a project and a vision, I work my hardest to get it done. This sometimes means turning down invitations to do something I enjoy. Also, I find if I go out in the morning, it’s much harder to concentrate the rest of the day. (Mom has encouraged moms for years on thisthe encouragement to stay home! If you go out in the morning, you’ll find it’s hard to stay on track for the afternoon!)

If I hit a writer’s block or just a difficult section, it’s okay. Some writing days are slower, but my page count still increases. The goal is to keep writing, even when it’s hard.

Finishing the first draft is an exciting moment! I praise the Lord for His grace and mercy!

Love,
Sarah

Writing on the 4th of July!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me…
But my God shall supply all your need according
to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:13&19).

Part 1: The Book Writing Process

“I think it would be very educational (not to mention fascinating) for you to guide us blog readers through the process of writing a book. From the initial idea to the finished product, step-by-step.” A blog reader

Book writing is a process, so I’m going to divide this into a series.

  1. Ideas! That’s where you start, and I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not overflowing with countless future book ideas. I have some, but not a crazy number, as some people do. The Lord is faithful to give me each story, and so I believe my lack of having a storehouse creates an even greater dependence on HIM! With my current book, my initial book idea completely changed about three months ago. I still may write that first book someday in the future but not now. As I work on ideas, I discuss it with my team. 🙂 See my team below. They are amazing! The ideas they come up with?! Whew!

2. Outline! So once I get the story plot concept, I outline it to see if it works in an actual story. This for me is the hardest part of the journey. One can only sit and brainstorm for so long! But I take my brainstorming in manageable chunks. Then, I go to my team of helpers and run through my ideas. Several in my family should be fiction writers themselves (seriously!). We usually discuss my outline after dinner and Bible time. They’ll give me suggestions of things I ought to change or that don’t make sense or fresh ideas.

I love this verse on my wall!

3. Character Profiles! This is a new thing I’ve implemented in my current book. To keep my characters unique and to help me as I really learn them, I have profiles listing out what kind of person they really are: their likes, dislikes, personality, etc. I’ve studied a book on personalities (there are many books out there!) which has helped me to create real-life characters.

4. Pre-Book Trial Run! This is another new thing. Although my family has critiqued and gone through the book, I don’t normally have others read it until about the time it goes to a copyeditor. But, this time around, I selected a number of people to FaceTime/Skype with, and I told them my story. Their response?! They loved it! It was also great for me to be able to articulate my book in 30-45 minutes of time and also to see what my weak areas were.

We’ll stop with those and delve into the actual writing process next time I share.

Love,
Sarah

Brainstorming with coffee and my favorite dog :: a perfect combo.

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:
bind them about thy neck;
write them upon the table of thine heart.”
(Proverbs 3:3)

Four Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block

What are your tips for dealing with writer’s block? That’s definitely my biggest fear/frustration. 

 

This question came in a recent post about writing, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

  1. Pray. Yes, pray. I stop trying to write and pray. The Lord is the Author of creativity, and He knows exactly what the story needs! I’ve often found that praying gets me back on the right track.
  2. Leave the computer, and go do something. Even in the midst of tight deadlines, it’s okay to leave your writing for a few hours. Go take a walk, bake something, eat chocolate (ha, I do that regardless of writer’s block!), go run an errand, whatever. That break often gives the needed energy and drive to get back to writing.
  3. Ask others. It’s a common practice in writing circles to have critique partners. I’m so blessed because critique partners live right here! If I’m stuck, I talk through it with a family member. Seriously, sometimes in less than a minute, they’ll have the idea needed to move my story forward. Or, just talking through the scene gives me a fresh idea.
  4. Move on. If the first 3 points don’t work, I’ll simply skip the section I’m having trouble with and come back to it later. Eventually, I get it!

 

As tough as writer’s block is, it shows me my continual dependence upon Jesus. This story is not my own. It’s His. 

For those who write, please share your best tips on overcoming writer’s block in the comment box below to encourage others! I can’t wait to hear them.

Love,
Sarah

“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
for ever and ever:”

Isaiah 30:8

A Simple Key to Teaching Children Writing Skills

Over the years, a common question I’m asked is how I started writing. While I didn’t have any aspirations to become a writer when I was young, my mom helped develop creative writing by a simple project she incorporated into my homeschooling English curriculum.

Starting in 6th grade, every week I wrote an elderly relative or friend. I needed to make one paragraph extremely descriptive—so descriptive the reader would feel like she was there. Those letters cultivated my creative spark. When I began the Moody Family Series, those years of letter writing helped me develop scenes.

No matter what your child does with writing in the future, this letter project will not only sharpen their skills, but it will bless others.

Since I know writing is an interest for some of our readers, I’d love to share some things on that topic. If you have specific questions you’d like me to address, please leave them in the comment box below, and I’ll see about using them in a separate blog post.

Love,
Sarah

Sarah Maxwell
Ellie and me

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having
compassion one of another, love as brethren,
be pitiful, be courteous.”

1 Peter 3:8