Guest Blog Post: My Writing Process

Guest Blog Post: My Writing Process

Today’s guest blogger is Teresa Kelly! You can find her here.

When writers start out with their first words, whether they know it or not, they are starting to develop the routine and habits that they will use the rest of their lives to shape, design, and modify their writing. For me writing started early in life, and while I have definitely found writing processes that do not work I have also found the process that does work for me, which I have broken down into six steps to share with you now.

1. Environment

The first step in my process is environment. Funny as that sounds, if you have been writing any length of time you know how crucial it is to be in an environment that feeds your creative thought process. I have written in almost every environment possible, but many will not allow me to focus on the words that I am trying to put down on paper. Ideally when I need to do some writing I get settled at my desk or in a room with as few distractions as possible. I detest trying to write while people are talking or watching television, so I normally pick a location where I can be alone with my notebooks and thoughts. Once I am settled the next most important environmental factor is music. I cannot write without listening to one of my many playlists! Music has always brought out my creative side and so for that reason it is a must! Once the environment is ideal the writing can commence.

2. Thoughts

Before I get into the meat of my writing I get out a notebook (I keep stacks of these everywhere) and jot down my thoughts on what I am getting ready to write to help keep me focused on characters I am developing and points I am trying to make. I find this helps me stay on course and not forget important details that may become crucial later in the story.  It is important to note that my “Thoughts Notebook” stays with me all the time during the course of the story so that I have it available when I think of something, or while writing so that I can refer back to previous thoughts if needed.

3, Initial Draft

Once my thoughts are down for reflection it is time to start some writing. When I am working on my initial draft I get back to basics and grab a pen and notebook. For each story I write there are two notebooks, one for my thoughts and one for the first draft. I love the feeling of filling up a notebook with words as my story unfolds and my characters develop.

4. First Edit and Read Through

Once my story is complete (at least as completed as it can be before editing) it is time to do my first read through and edit. During this time I use a different colored ink pen to make my changes and corrections when editing passages, and, yes, maybe even remove large sections now and then.

5. Typing and Second Edit

After I have completed my first read through and edit, and have ensured that I have wrapped up all loose ends and brought my characters to a good stopping point, it is time to take my story from the now very battered up and marked up notebook to the computer and start typing. While typing I look once more for errors in need of correcting as well as paragraph and chapter structure. When I am satisfied with the results I close the notebooks for good and hit print on my completed document.

6. Final Read Through

Ahh…almost finished, the moment I have been waiting for, the writing I have worked and slaved over for the last few weeks or months and poured my heart and soul into is now in front of me in a printed pile, ready for me to delve in once more and relive the adventure this time without worry about anything but my story line and plot.

While these steps may not work for everyone and get altered depending on what I am writing, for me it is a good concise method that helps me stay on track and come out the other side with a viable story to read and share with friends and/or family.

I hope that each of you get to develop and fine tune your writing process so that in the years to come you get all the pleasure of getting lost in your work without getting buried under it.

Self-Editing Booklet

Self-Editing Booklet

Now that I have an outline and specifications smoothed out, I think it will be a lot easier to get you guys on board by basically doing what I did with the guest blog posts: put out topics, first come, first serve; then gather them all and put them in this self-editing booklet I am throwing together. Charles Yallowitz has already volunteered his input, so I’m giving you guys more concrete topics you can write about. Here they are:

1. How you outline  Seán Cooke

2. How you handle the first chapter

3. How you handle the first five chapters

4. How you handle the middle of the book

5. How you handle the ending

First come, first serve, so quickly choose and I will cross out topics as they are requested and put the person’s name/username. I am in no hurry to write this booklet, so take your time with the topic. You can e-mail me your piece at, and I will add you to the booklet!

Self-Editing Booklet: Desires Various Writers’ Input

Self-Editing Booklet: Desires Various Writers’ Input


I am putting out a call for writer input on a self-editing booklet I am currently outlining. This book will be published on my website and will serve as a guide for helping writers become effective self-content editors–as in, being able to structurally edit the book oneself without requiring major input from a third party.

Content, in my opinion, is the hardest to edit because it can require whole re-writes. Once the content is edited, however, all that is left are line edits and proofreading. But content can require a complete tear down of a book, and it can be disconcerting as a writer to either have a strong beta reader or editor tear your book apart, only for you to realize you have to start at square one. This is what happened to me with When Stars Rise (the sequel to When Stars Die). I had to completely re-work the book because it wasn’t working as it was, and I realized I didn’t want to have that happen for future books, so I learned from my freelance editor how to effectively self-edit content so that my book doesn’t have to be completely put through a shredder. There is no guarantee future books of mine won’t be, but having the tools I learned from her has made me a much stronger writer, and so I’d like to help you all become stronger writers by creating this booklet.

All I want from you guys is advice for how you edit, like how you approach revisions for chapter ones, the first five chapters, the middle that can often get muddled, creating an effective ending, all while maintaining strong writing. My booklet is going to be divided into these planned parts: what to include in outline revisions/ notes, how to approach chapter one, the first five chapters, battling that muggy middle, creating a sharp ending, and tackling plot holes. More may come depending on what you guys send me.

I don’t want this booklet to be just about my experience but about all of your experiences as well because everyone will have to do things differently and so I’d like differing viewpoints.

So e-mail me your experiences with revisions and how you get your book in shape to work how you want it to work. If you’ve had freelance editors in the past, you can include what they’ve taught you. I’m not requiring anything specific: just whatever advice you want to send me for how you tackle revisions.

All of this will be put together in a booklet, and of course when I quote you or even dedicate a page or something to you, you will be credited as an author of the booklet.

Send whatever you can come up with to Also, send any questions if you are confused.

We’re All Professional Writers

We’re All Professional Writers


For years I felt like I could never justify the scribblings that occurred in the back of my room, often for hours. I could justify it to myself, that I’m doing this so I can land this agent, this publisher, this whatever, but trying to tell anyone else that I was a writer sounded silly. I could easily say I was an editor because I do get paid for freelance gigs and have my own lit magazine, but a writer, never. I mean, how can you easily tell people that you’re a writer when you’ve never had a contract before? People want to know you’re making money off anything nowadays because then it makes more sense to them why you bother being a shut-in for months.

Now that I have a contract, it is so much easier for me to justify being a writer. “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a writer.” As well as my other various jobs that can earn me some cash. It’s also so much easier to tell people I need time to work on this new book. In fact, I told my fiancé yesterday I needed to leave his house early so I could finish the other chapter I started that day to meet my goal of doing two. I never would have done that before a contract. In fact, I would have felt guilty knowing that because I didn’t really have a career, there would have been no reason to leave my fiancé and that my time with him is invaluable. It still is more valuable, but I want to build my career to possible full-time writer, and to do that, I have to keep writing.

Why is it so much easier to justify being a writer now that I can officiate my career as a writer? Why can’t people just understand that art isn’t going to bring immediate results? In fact, why do I feel the need to justify anything to people who really don’t get it? After all, I have no problem telling people that I am an adult ballet dancer, even though I am far from being a professional. I proudly claim that title because so many adults wish they could do ballet but are afraid to and I am one of the few that doesn’t fear being a late starter.

English: Classic ballet-dancer Español: Bailar...
English: Classic ballet-dancer Español: Bailarina de danza clásica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I can easily claim the title of adult ballet dancer, then I should be able to claim the title of writer without a contract under my belt. However, people think you’re so much more interesting when you tell them you’re a ballet dancer, especially when the ballet community is so small. They’ll tell you they did it when they were younger and wished they’d never quit. They’re convinced it’s too late, and perhaps that’s just it. People see an age limit on ballet and think you’re awesome for defying that and you don’t have to justify the sweat you pour into ballet by saying you get paid for it. Because I don’t. In fact, I spend my own money on ballet classes, leotards, tights, pointe shoes, soft shoes, knowing I am never going to get paid for doing what I do.

But with writing, there is no age limit. Anyone can pick up a pen and write. Every single person on earth is technically a writer because all people have picked up some utensil to communicate through writing at one point or another. This is when it becomes problematic to justify only you are a writer. You’re the one who picks up that pen or keyboard or whatever and puts serious thought into what you write. You’re the one who spends hours researching to build incredibly believable worlds and believable characters. You’re the one who writes because you want to, not because it’s some school assignment. You are a writer because you want to go beyond what everyone else does with his/her writing. You don’t need money to justify your sweat. All you need is you and hard work and your dream. So let’s all keep the Writer’s Manifesto with us and tack it somewhere on our hearts so that way the next time someone asks what we do, we can say we’re writers and no one bats an eye.