Guest Post: J.M. Sullivan With “My Writing Process”

Hello, everyone! My guest this month needs no introduction, you’ve already seen her amazing writing insight on Writers On The Storm! Here is J.M. Sullivan talking about her writing process:

My Writing Process

So there’s a question I get a lot as an author, and it’s one I have a hard time answering, because honestly, it changes all the time.

Chances are if you are a writer, or know a writer, you’ve either heard or asked this question yourself. It’s something many people are interested in, and that’s, what’s your writing process like?

And, maybe I’m just different from most other authors, but aside from the general stages of panic and self doubt (which trust me, are ALWAYS there), I think the process of telling each story has been different each time.

That being said, there are a few constants which frame my overall process, and from there, I connect the dots. This is how it (usually) happens.

1. Planning

Before I begin, I have to figure out the basics of my story. To clarify, I am by no means what one would consider a ‘planner.’ My plans are more of a basic outline for what the overall story arc is going to look like and the main points my characters will hit along the way. After I create the skeleton outline, I know I’ve got the bones ready to hold the rest of my story up.

2. Drafting

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Once I have finished drafting, I begin writing. This is the part where my process gets tricky. Some writers have daily rituals and routines, word count goals, etc. I just write when I can and what I can. Some of my books I have written very quickly, and others (Cough Lost Boy cough) take an eternity. It’s complicated. Kind of like my brain.

3. Revising

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After I finish drafting (whenever that may be), I give myself a small break and then jump back in to revisions. This is where I fill plot holes and gaps that I left in the draft and clean up the messes I made—because what they say is true, first drafts ARE NOT pretty.

4. Re-Revising

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Then (usually somewhere in the middle of revising) I begin re-revising. This happens when a character decides they don’t ACTUALLY want to die, or that the whole middle of the book that I wrote for them isn’t good enough (I’m looking at YOU, Alice) and I end up rewriting a large portion of my original draft. Generally there is a lot of swearing, head banging, and self-loathing involved. Fun. Times.

5. Submit

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When I FINALLY finish the revisions and I have a story that actually is closer to a book than a raging dumpster fire. It’s time to submit. This in itself is a whole other process, but unfortunately, that’s another blog post for another day.

Suffice it to say, there are a lot of mixed feelings once the story finally leaves my hands, but the culminating emotion is one I doubt I’ll ever get tired of.

Teacher by day, award-winning author by night, J.M. Sullivan is a fairy tale fanatic who loves taking classic stories and turning them on their head. When she’s not buried in her laptop, you can find her watching scary movies with her husband, playing with her kids, or lost inside a good book. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect with J.M., you can find her on social media at @jmsullivanbooks— she’d love to hear from you.

Her newest book Second Star is available now!

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