Indie Author Weekly

144: "How do you write your books?"

April 25, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 145
Indie Author Weekly
144: "How do you write your books?"
Show Notes Transcript

“How do you write your books? By hand, by typewriter?” In this episode, we’re answering THAT question! Get ready for a full recap of the logistics and practical side for how I write my books…

0:00 Intro

0:20 Answering a question from a friend: “How do you write your books? By hand, by typewriter?” — and a few other logistics when it comes to the practical side of how I write books

0:50 When it comes to writing books, here’s why I do NOT use a typewriter, and why I do NOT write by hand 

3:40 My process for writing my novels — outlining my books on paper and a Google doc (plus a quick explanation about what my chapter outline looks like)

5:35 The 3 types of Google docs I always use for writing my novels

9:30 Keeping tabs open vs not, and using external monitors while working on the computer

11:50 A few additional types of Google docs I like using when working on books

12:50 How I usually “write” large portions of my books without actually writing them

16:45 Writing in various environments

17:50 How I use music when writing my books

23:00 Bookmark giveaway!

25:05 Wrap up

WIN BOOKMARKS featuring Sagan’s novels when you publish a review of any of her books between now and April 30, 2023! All you need to do is write and publish a review of any of her books on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, etc (any book platforms of your choice), and then email hello[at]saganmorrow[dot]com with the link and your mailing address — and then Sagan will mail you bookmarks!

Resources & links mentioned in this episode: 

Let’s chat about this episode:

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Hello and welcome to the Indie Author Weekly podcast where you get to hear about the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author on your host Sagan Morrow, and since 2016, I have written and published seven romantic comedy novels in the polyamorous passion series, plus several business books for solopreneurs. Now, in this episode, I wanted to answer a question that a friend asked me over a year ago now about how I write my books. So the question was, second, how do you write your books by hand I typewriter? What is your process here? So in this episode, I want to answer that question and kind of dig a lot deeper into the logistics around how I approach writing my books. So yes, I do have a typewriter, but I do not write novels on it at this point. So I received my typewriter as a gift. It was my grandfather's he used to write letters to me on it. It was it was wonderful. And he gave it to me when it got to the point where he put it to press with us anymore. It was too hard on his fingers, because it is quite, it's quite heavy, right. typewriters are very heavy to press down with your fingers. And so I have used it I used I used to write a couple of poetic letters to him when he first gave it to me. And I like the idea of using my typewriter in the future for some kind of like maybe like a ghost story, right? Like something maybe like kind of creepy, something paranormal. Maybe I feel like a typewriter would be really great for that. But when it comes to writing romantic comedy novels, for some reason the typewriter doesn't feel like a good fit for it. The other side of it is again, it's it's hard to type on a typewriter. So my fingers would not be able to handle writing a full novel at this point with it. And also it would be fast enough for me, right. So I also do not write by hand because for one thing, my handwriting is way too messy before another it's not fast enough. I usually get a surge of ideas, and I cannot write by hand fast enough. And I feel like the same problem to probably come up with a typewriter as well. And just like with a typewriter, my hand gets tired from writing by hand. I used to write by hand constantly as a kid as a teenager, I would write out you know, full novels by hand. But nowadays, I can't do that. I don't know if that's just because I got to practice by writing by hand or if that's something that happens when you reach your mid 30s. I don't know. But my hand can't can't handle that amount of writing anymore. So I do not use a typewriter. I do not write my novels by hand. I use my laptop use my computer. Again. Oh my god. My writing is so messy. It is so messy like I would not be able to read what I have written because it is it's it's very amusing. Maybe at some point I will show you all if you're watching if you're watching this episode on YouTube, maybe at some point, if you want I will show you what my handwriting looks like. It is not not the prettiest. So what I do is I write my books on a computer. I like using Google Docs I've heard really great things about all kinds of different writing software programs. I like to keep things super simple. I'm sure that I will experiment with a different type of writing software in the future. But for the meantime, Google Docs worked great for me. So here's kind of my process when it comes to writing my novels. Before I start writing a novel I like to outline it. I usually do this with writing down single plot points on sticky notes. And then I can arrange them hotkeys poster paper. And so those might be things like conversations or key scenes or anything like that. Any type of things I want to include in the book, I will just have those as as sticky notes and I can kind of move them around and identify Okay, where does this actually go in the book itself? So after I've done that, I like I like doing things tactile i i find those really good for my creative brain for some reason, being able to do things hands on just works really well for me. So I get that first usually. And then I will turn that into a single Google Doc that becomes a chapter outline. So I will often write out you know, different chapters and I'll usually have pre planned maybe like three particular plot points or scenes for each chapter. So I know exactly what each chapter is going to look like before I start writing the manuscript in earnest. Sometimes these these names is all like a bullet point on a Google Doc. So sometimes these different scenes or plot points will be very vague. Maybe it'll be you know, something like these people have a conversation like this character comes back into into the story right or something like that. It'll be very, very vague. Other times, it'll be extremely specific. I don't know exactly what I want to happen in a particular scene, or what conversation I want to take place or whatever it happens to be. So that is one of the key documents that I have. There are two other documents that I always use. So one is the manuscript itself. We're actually writing everything out chapter by chapter. And the other document. The third document that I always create is a random notes and scenes document. So this is where I will have written out a particular scene or maybe a snippet for a scene, but it's not ready to go on the manuscript yet. So I just have it in a in a long Google Doc. It's just not ready to be put into the main manuscript. Yeah, because I like writing in a fairly linear fashion. So when I'm working on a manuscript when I'm like, Okay, I'm starting chapter one, the first sentence, I like writing it out as completing chapter one and then getting to chapter two, if I have it, if I have random scenes throughout, then it doesn't really work so well for my brain. So all of those extra scenes, anything that I've jumped around to jumped ahead to write, they're on a separate document. My manuscript is just the regulatory linearly finished chapter one that I can plug in a scene from for chapter two and that kind of thing. I have no problem jumping around. The scene happens to come to mind or if I get like a spark of an idea for something, I will write it down at the time, but I like to have that in my separate notes and scenes google doc before until I get to that particular chapter in the full manuscript, which means I will, I will plug it in. And with that document that notes and scenes document, I will often start creating it while I'm working on a different novel. This happens especially because you know with my polyamorous passion series, this will just sort of happen organically, right? Because if I'm working on a particular novel, and then a theme, or an idea comes up for a future novel, then I want to write that down really quickly. So I don't forget. So I might write you know, just a concept for it. Or I might write you know, little paragraphs or a couple pages, whatever it happens to be. So I will often have already written multiple pages in this notes and scenes document for a given book before I even create the chapter outline which is kind of cool. And I do try to organize all of those notes and scenes into a rough chapter order so that I know where they're gonna go on a manuscript. So even if I've started opening up some scenes, Google Doc, before I create the chapter outline, I might have, you know, five or 10 pages already written. Then I create that chapter outline, right, I use my color coded, make sticky notes. I create a checkout line on a Google Doc and then I go back to the notes and scenes document, and I will arrange them in an order of chapters, and I will have them on I like to use like the Google Doc. What is it like a table of contents type of thing. You can have as like a sidebar when you're working in a Google doc so I can see exactly where my different chapters are. I always like having that. And so that I know where exactly particular scenes are going to go or where particular ideas that I have are going to go into a given chapter. So that when I get to that chapter in the manuscript document, I can just quickly refer back to the notes and things document and make sure that I'm not gonna forget and keep used I wanted to include in it, and then I can just really easily copy and paste it into that particular chapter. Now, as a general rule, when I am working, I have approximately a million tabs open at any given time. I love having tabs open I have my laptop as well as two external monitors, which is fantastic. I absolutely love it i At this point, now that I have three screens, I honestly cannot remember having only two screens like that just feels such a such a long time ago, and it's actually Oh my god, okay, so it's actually really funny. This is a sidebar, but it's really funny when I go traveling, if I take my computer with me and if I'm doing a very little bit of work, I find it so frustrating to just work from a laptop and to not have an external monitor. I have I've really spoiled myself with these external monitors. It is such a game changer. I love it. And so again, it allows me to have many tabs open at any given time. However, when it comes to writing my books, I find that having tabs open is extremely distracting and I can't do it. I have to either close all the tabs completely or I will have to minimize all those windows. I can only have my book notes up at a given time, in which case I can use each of my screens for each of those three documents right and Nelson seems document on one screen, the manuscript estimates on another screen and the chapter one author screen, so I can do it that way. Yeah, so I find I find that having multiple tabs open just really throws me off. It really distracts me so easily. It's very easy to get tempted to do something else or to you know, check social media, that kind of thing. So I always need to close it down completely. And I find it very interesting that this is not the case in other aspects of my business. I can have, you know, a ridiculous amount of tabs open and it is totally fine. I don't find it distracting at all. I find it actually really helpful for that. type of work I do. So it's always interesting to know how our brains work differently depending on the type of work that we're doing and how we need to adapt our practices for how we do things. As a result of that. I just I find that fascinating. This also reminds me as I was saying, like I have these three documents that I always use. I also have other documents that will be kind of like in the background, but I don't use them on a on a daily basis. If I'm writing every game, I want to refer back to them constantly. But I have a character bible so that incorporates who my characters are any key notes about them. I have I have a spreadsheet with different songs that I have in each of my playlists because I don't want to accidentally reuse a song for any of my playlists from one book to the next. So I have like a few different documents like that. I have another document that has the synopsis for each of my of my novels within a series just that I can like quickly refer back to it. So I have different different sort of documents like that. But I don't refer to those on an ongoing basis when I'm in the process of writing a particular novel. I'll just refer to those Yeah, much more minimally or at particular points throughout the writing process. Now I have chronic insomnia, which you know, is a whole thing but it can actually be really hopeful sometimes because I can do a lot of writing when I can't fall asleep at night. This is tends to be in my head. I will write in my head. I will come up with ideas in my head. And then I might usually email them to myself that I have them the next day but I find that very helpful. So I do a lot of my writing, not when I'm at the computer, but throughout the day when I am unable to fall asleep at night, or when I go for a walk. So I go for about an hour 20 minute walk every single day. And so that is a really good time for me to think about my novels and do some writing. And then again, I'm making up myself while I'm out there especially if a particular line comes to mind or a scene that I hadn't really thought of before or you know, a conversation I want to include all of those types of things. I will email to myself slowly, you know, furiously writing away on my phone. So I don't forget it and so that I can, you know plug it in when I get back to my computer when I'm done with my walk. So that is that is one of the things that I do. Again, I find that I write that my ideas come to mind so fast that I can't I sometimes can't keep up with them right. So that is again, why do not use a typewriter or write by hand because I need to get those ideas out of my head and into my books. Most of the time when I'm actually sitting down at the computer to write my novels, I will already have that idea in mind. Of what what I'm gonna be writing because I will have either gone over the dialogue in my head or I will come up with a scene when I was going up for a walk and that kind of thing. So I will often know what I'm going to write because I've already like pre written it in my head.
Other times I will sit down at my computer and I will just write whatever sort of comes to mind at the moment. This is always really fascinating to me, because I don't do this as often right? I usually have the ideas already in my head and I just need to get them get them out. So when I am sitting at the computer and I like check my chapter outline and I go okay, I'm supposed to write this particular scene. Sometimes it feels like I'm cheating or it feels like I'm making stuff up when I just when I do that are going out in transition scenes. Which is hilarious because I'm the author. It's all made up. It's all fiction. I made I made it all out right, like the books that they're all they're all made up. But it's really weird when you know if a scene doesn't come naturally to me, if I haven't already pre written something in my head, then it feels like I'm cheating. It feels like I'm making stuff up. So I find it just like very fascinating how my brain kind of works. I'll still do it. But I'm like, Oh, am I allowed to do this? Like I can't believe I'm just sitting at the computer like making up what my characters are saying rather than than telling me what they want to say. I don't know if this is how your brain works as well. I'd be very curious if you are a creative of any type of writer and an artist, whatever it happens to be. Is this how your brain works. Do you find that you have already conceived things in your head and then you go and put them out into the world? And does it feel like you're making stuff up or that you're cheating? If you just like, do it in the moment. I'm so curious, please let me know. Please do. I don't know if this is common or not. But I do find it quite amusing. Now I can write in coffee shops or at home I can kind of work on novels anywhere. Like I said I really love my external monitors. So I can't really do many other types of work outside of my office. I actually can't I really don't like it. I don't like working on different parts of my business at coffee shops or while I'm traveling that kind of thing. novels, writing books is really the only thing that I actually enjoy. I really enjoy writing wherever it makes coffee beans, heavenly work that makes sense for my brain if I'm on a laptop and that kind of thing. So you know the noise noise doesn't tend to bother me at all if I have noise or not. I can work in a busy coffee shop environment. I can work in the house when other people are around or when I'm by myself I can work with music or without music. And none of that none of that was really affected by things. I've worked outside in parks before you know none of it. None of it really bothers me that can kind of you know I can I can write novels anywhere. It doesn't it doesn't matter. Like I said, I create playlists for my novels. So this is another piece that sort of part of my writing process. I will create a playlist for each novel. I do this on Spotify, and I like to do it so that I can add it to the front of the book when it is published. And that way author or readers can listen to the to the book soundtrack if they want while they're reading the book. It's just a fun thing to do. But I don't always necessarily listen to the playlist while I'm writing my novels because I like choosing the songs for the playlist based on what is happening in that scene. So the average person reads roughly 300 words a minute, and I will create playlists after the fact I'll compile a bunch of songs that I think be good for the book as I'm writing the book. But I will in the end create a playlist based on how many words are in this chapter. What are the particular things that are happening in this chapter, which songs match up best with it and how can I make sure that if it's roughly 300 words per minute that people are reading that assigns will roughly match up to this to the scenes and the different factors. That is my process for creating those playlists. Maybe that maybe that sounds like it's you know, way over the top and excessive but I love doing it that way. It makes me very happy. That is how my brain works. Other you know so like I said I will sometimes listen to parts of a playlist while I'm working on a given novel, but I will really compile the playlist in its entirety and in the correct order and everything like that after I've finished writing and editing the book, basically like one of the last things that I do before, before publishing, it is really finalizing that playlist. And again, that's because of the lyrics or the vibe of the song for particular scene, that kind of thing. So I do you love just creating playlists in general. It's just really, really fun for me. And I have different types of playlists for different things that I might be doing in my business or in my life, right? I have many different playlists. So I have a romance novel writing playlist that I've been listening to while I'm working on book each of the polyamorous passionate series, but different you know, depending on the book that I'm writing or the scenes that I'm writing, I will listen to different playlists for different types of music. It is interesting, you know, going back to what I mentioned about having tabs open with different parts of my business and no tabs open for writing novels. This is an interesting thing when it comes to listening to music as well because I have very specific types of music that I like listening to when I'm working on other parts of my business, and I will very often listen to a single song on repeat for hours when I'm working on other parts of my business besides novel writing. I don't usually listen to a single song on repeat while I'm writing a novel, but when I'm doing other things in my business, I will very often listen to single songs I repeat, my my Spotify, you know Spotify raft that they give you at the end of each year is always hilarious because of the sheer amount of minutes that I will have listened to my Top songs. It's ridiculous. I will share more about that in a future episode. If you care about that at all. I can absolutely share more about that. But it's it gets interesting. So if you're curious about what these playlists look like, the types of songs that included my novels, if you're just like wondering what it's like if you want to listen to some music, you should totally check out the complete soundtrack for my polyamorous passion series that is available for you at Sagan passions playlist. So I will put the link in the show notes. That is just one of my Spotify playlists that you can you can listen to and as we complete soundtrack for the polyamorous passion series, when books eight and nine are published, then those soundtracks will be added to it as well. So right now, Sagan passions playlist includes the soundtrack for books one to seven in a polyamorous passion series. Okay, so that is everything that I think I wanted to share about today when it comes to how I approach writing books. There you have it. So those are some insights on how I write if you have any additional questions about this particular topic, if you want me to go deeper with some of that if you have follow up questions, or if you have any other topics that you would love for me to address here on indie author weekly, I would love to hear that I would love to take that into consideration for future episodes. Please tell me what you want more of tell me what you're curious about with my author life, my author, Journey journey, and then I can create episodes around those topics and answering your questions. So you can submit your topic ideas at Sagan I will share that in the show notes or you can email me hello at Sagan I always love hearing from you. Now before we close out our episode for today, a reminder about our bookmark giveaway so I have a lot of bookmarks for my polyamorous passions series. And I would love to get them out of my office and give them to you. So it doesn't matter where you are in the world. I would love to ship a couple of bookmarks to you if you bookmarks I have them for books one to six in the series I bookmarks available. So what you need to do in order to receive bookmarks in the mail from me is to post a review of any or all of my books between now and April 30 2023 Four do you any for as many as you want of my books on Amazon or Goodreads Kobo whatever platform you want. And then just email me hello F Sagan with a link to your review and your mailing address. Tell me your mailing addresses and I will mail you some a question here from from my books and you can give me whatever stars you want. Review it however you want reviews are for readers absolutely 100% Be very honest and genuine in your reviews please but I would just love to get more reviews on the books out there and I would love to provide you with a with a little gift a little thank you for reviewing my books. These are available while supplies while supplies last but I do have quite a few bookmarks so I don't think we're going to run out. So again, this is only until April 30. Make sure that you review any of my books or if you want to please feel free to review multiple of my books, and then just let me know, email me let me know that you've reviewed them send me your mailing address and I will pop some of those in the mail to you anywhere you might happen to be in the world. All right. That my friend is a wrap for today's episode of indie author weekly access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources at Sagan and share your thoughts on this episode on Twitter or Instagram. Please do feel free to tag me my handle is at Sagan lives. Please take two minutes to rate and review and the author weekly on Apple podcasts. Or if you are watching this episode on YouTube, please subscribe to my channel and give this video the thumbs up. Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly