Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Fitting It All Into A Day: My Writing Process

It's been a while since I posted here and I hope that this post you will give you insight into what I've been up to in terms of writing, the factors that affect my writing day and how I try to fit it all into my day, with varying degrees of success.

What am I working on/ writing

One of my biggest challenges is that my head is never quiet, even when I’m not writing or blogging. There is always a story or character trying to say something to me and I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t regularly do a brain dump.  So while I haven’t been blogging for long while, I’ve been doing a lot of writing this year. The material I've been working on includes:

Client work: This ranged from web content to brochures to articles published in magazines and blogs under a client’s name. I’ve scaled this down drastically though, so I can write more books.

Children’s stories: Two stories are done and proof-read and have covers. I just need to get off my tushie to work on publishing them on Amazon as planned. Another story has been critiqued by trusted readers and edited but doesn’t have a cover.   There’s also a series of 10 children’s stories based on a single character, started in March 2014. I should start researching the themes in the stories to ensure accuracy of fictional events. I also have a number of folktales retold for children in second draft.

A novella (romance)  and a short story submitted to a publisher under a pen name. Waiting to hear from them.

An ebook on growing your own food in South Africa (proposed as ebook series of 3). Manuscript due to publisher in September as per publisher request.

Blog posts – Blogging was the orphan child who suffered while I lived and worked, though I did manage to write quite a lot for my gardening blog, come up with the ebook idea, pitch it to a publisher and write up more than half the manuscript.

Poetry for personal use. This is a new development startedin the past couple of months. In May I wrote a poem for Baby’s 16th birthday, another for Mother’s Day and third for a close friend commemorating Macaroon Day.  My friend didn’t know it was Macaroon Day until I said so and she’s still not sure why she should care about the day. Tomorrow is Old Maid's Day and I suppose I am one and I have friends who are, though obviously I wouldn't have used that phrase. So there could be a poem in me to commemorate the day:)

How does my work/writing differ from others in its genre?

I try to make my readers feel that one of my characters is sitting next to them, telling them about even their lives or in the case of non-fiction I’m explaining how the stuff works. The flow of words, the cadence of it should reflect this.

When I write for clients though, I strive to make sure my “voice” is completely absent. I listen to hours of audio interviews when I first land a client I’m writing for, so that I can get a feel of them not just in the content I’m communicating but also in the turn of phrases they are prone to use.  It’s hard in the beginning and I usually prefer to interview them by email too so their personality comes through their written words unfiltered by me.

Why do I write what I do?

I write children’s stories and folktales because I want to share stories that had an impact on me as a child and to write stories children I love can identify with;  IT business because there’s a big geek in me who loves thinking about cables and widgets and the business of selling them and using them to create interesting things and the laws that govern that whole process; marketing, promotion and publicity because I’ve worked in those fields and many people want to know how it works and I love sharing what I know; gardening because I’m passionate about growing our food and love sharing what I’m learning;  poetry because sometimes I have something to say to a specific person. Sometimes though, I write because the client asked and it’s money in the bank for me.

How does my writing process work?

My writing has to fit in with whatever home-related tasks I have to do throughout the day. For example, yesterday’s priorities involved caring for Mma who has health issues, updating my cozi app to plan for winter, June and the coming week (writing goals for the month, projects that need to be done around the house this June, life admin, ordering our monthly meds, making a monthly grocery list and ordering meat animals from local farmers – a lamb at R500/$47 and pig at R600/$57 to last us through Spring).

I also had to pick the day’s harvest, water the garden, prepare our lunch and dinner and deal with three different guests who came to come visit Mma.

My writing priorities for the day were writing this blog, finding three poems to send to an organisation that asked me, sending my ebook “How to get quoted in the media” to a friend for a thesis research, updating a client’s social media, taking photos of the garden and writing  about one vegetable for the ebook manuscript and transcribing and translating a short client audio.

As to the nitty-gritty of my writing process, client work is easy: I get a brief outlining a topic, slant and word count, potential sources and the publication the client is placing it with. I then draft interview questions and send them to the sources also asking for interview date and time and to find out if they prefer email or telephonic  interviews.  After the interview I write the piece, rewrite it until I’m happy with it, send it to the client for approval, edit again and polish until it’s ready for publication.

For my personal projects, whether fiction or non-fiction, I evaluate the ideas dumped onto my board to see if they have merit and free- write those that look “shiny” to me. That gives me the bare bones of my stories.  From there I do online research, which may also include cutting photos of people, places and buildings to support various themes in the work,  then look for interview sources to get more information to shape my stories, settings or characters.

I then rewrite the piece, this time the writing rooted in information and referring to my notes, photos/clips and articles quite a bit. This is where I consciously choose a method to communicate information in the piece (to narrate or quote, for example) and verify whether what the character says or does is plausible.

This process is repeated over and over until the draft manuscript is done.  Sometimes I put the story away for hours/days/weeks, even months, before I start cutting it to meet word count requirements and rewriting until the piece feels polished.

Afterwards, I send it to trusted readers for their input. For longer non-fiction works, I’ve been known call friends saying “I hate it. It sucks. I’m a horrible writer!” Then sanity prevails and I use readers’ input to polish it, edit and proof-read the piece again before sending it where it’s supposed to go for publication.
So. That’s the overall process, though it’s truncated for shorter or more predictable pieces.

This post is part of the My Writing Process blog hop. I was tagged by Corinne Rodrigues, a Mumbai-based blogger, writer, motivator who says she is journeying happily through midlife. Corinne blogs here and on Write Tribe and From 7Eight.

For this hop, I'm tagging three people and their posts will go live on Monday 9th June. Please visit them next week, get to know them and you'll see why I like them so much:)

Sandile Nene, a young writer and blogger who has taught me a thing or two without realising it:

Sandile Nene, better known as Sandy is a 21 year old South African based freelance writer and blogger.

He is the founder of SA's first and biggest blogging community Web For Love (currently being renovated). Sandy blogs at On Point With Sandy and works as a social media manager and content creator.

Pamela Moeng, one of my closest friends and a writer. 

Pamela Moeng has worked as a feature writer for a small weekly newspaper, a Public Relations Manager in a cultural centre, an editor for two educational publishers and she currently works in communications.

Her published works include a romance novella entitled The Business of Love published by Nollybooks, educational books including English in Our Lives teachers guides grades 7, 8 and 9 and Let’s Use English teachers guide grade 8 for Heinemann, and Learning Arts and Culture Can Be Fun learners and teachers guides grade 5 for Nasou via Afrika.

She published six supplementary readers through Cambridge University Press, including both fiction and non-fiction.

She has edited the Oxford University Press publication Starting Your Own Business in South Africa 11th Edition, contributing the chapter on women in business. She contributed poems to Wo(ban).
Pamela blogs about writing here.

Ann, a new friend and blogger who has an interesting story to tell:

Passing the Deals in Kentucky

Ann is a mom of three, a wife, a nurse, a blogger; freelance writer, a tea lover, and she loves her Mac computer! Since 2008, she has learned that coupons can help her and her family through tough economic times.

By having a well-stocked and organized stockpile, she was able to continue to further her career. She worked full-time and attended college part-time, then times got tough so she had to give up her job to continue through school.

She then continued through college all while living off the stockpile that she had from coupons, and had help from others. Even since then she has come to believe that old saying: "the early bird gets the worm".

Ann says she believes there is truth in that statement, especially when it comes to hunting down the deals before the supplies run out. And being an avid couponer, she's always looking for that next "best" deal!

Her goal is to help others do the same. She want to pass along the deals not only to Kentuckians, but to everyone and she shares her insight on her blog Passing Deals in Kentucky


Jayanta said...

Hi Damaria, Good to see you are back with so many things packed :). Good to see your e-book on growing food is progressing. You must be managing your time very judiciously to achieve so many things. Good luck.

Alison Fourie said...

I love reading your posts, you are very interesting, one day I would love to meet you. Going to find some time and visit your gardening blog, trouble is I don't have much time and once I get onto your blog I will be there ages. You have such a lot to do, you are like a busy bee, always busy with plenty to do which is excellent, Keep it up and keep going. warm regards Ali

Damaria Senne said...

@Jayanta - Thanks for coming by. I know.. long time no speak, huh? Unfortunately managing my time is not one of my greatest strengths. I tend to run until I fall.. then I take a nap for a bit.. and then run full blast again.
@Alison - Hey! So nice to see you here. I know how busy you are too with business and family etc, and I'm glad you managed to find the time to come over. I'm so glad you enjoy my blog.

Sandy Nene said...

Thanks for nominating me. I will have my blog post next week.

You have been really busy, it seems.

Damaria Senne said...

@ sandy - My pleasure. Most days it doesn't feel being busy. I'm just one of those people who can't sit still. drives some of my friends and family nuts, especially because they know sooner or later, I involve them in my schemes:)

I look forward to your post.

Lori said...

Damaria, I'm glad to see your process. It helps me refine my own process to fit those much-loved personal projects in.

Blessings to Mma and to you.

Vidya Sury said...

I've only visited your gardening blog, Damaria and in fact, I wanted to tag you for the blog hop, but Corinne beat me to it by tagging both of us in her post!

I enjoyed reading your answers to the questions and I am keen to see your book about growing our own produce.

So glad we met via the A to Z!



Fe said...

You’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award. Congratulations!

J.L. Campbell said...

You do cover a lot of ground in a day. Plus all the writing work that you are doing.

Like you, I have various projects that take up my time. I'm hoping to set a better schedule soon.

MartieCoetser said...

Hi Damaria, wonderful to know that I am now also on your busy schedule. You know the saying, 'when you want something done ask a busy woman.'

Here's to our novel. May it not only delight and enlighten the two of us, but all our readers till the end of time.

Best wishes,


Rebecca A Emrich said...

always great to have a re-read of some of your posts. Hope you're still doing well. Keep writing.

Copyright Notice

With the exception of entries specifically credited to individual authors, the content on this blog is copyrighted by Damaria Senne and may not be reprinted without permission.