Friday, April 30, 2010

The Writing Process, Special Guest Author Sara Creasy

As a new author, my goal with this blog is to help other writers, and I decided that I want to start by adding some valuable information from other authors.

My first guest author, we have Sara Creasy joining us to talk about her writing process. First, Sara, I want to congratulate you on your first release, Song of Scarabaeus. I also want to thank you for stopping by to discuss your writing process with us. I know many aspiring writers and authors will be able to relate. Welcome, Sara.
Hi everyone, and thanks Dawn for inviting me to guest blog. This has been an exciting few days for me, with my debut science fiction romance novel Song of Scarabaeus hitting the shelves on 27th April. Today I mailed off a few copies to various friends, and the postal clerk got excited when he realized the name on the book was the same as the name on the return address label. “This is your book?” What a wonderful feeling, when a complete stranger shares your excitement!

Dawn asked me to talk about my writing process. As writers, we all have different hurdles to overcome as we churn out those words. For me, it took a long time to realize that my day job was holding me back. For many years I worked as a text book editor, and I loved it. Editors have a different relationship to words than writers do. Writers, of course, need to wear their editing hat at certain points in the process – it’s a learned skill that I recommend any writer cultivates. But for me, my editing hat was attached to my head with superglue, and that wasn’t conducive to creative writing. That was my hurdle.

I would agonize for hours over a single paragraph while my inner editor berated me for writing such awful prose. No wonder it took me years to complete a first draft. It’s difficult to keep writing when you’re so unhappy with what you’ve already written. For people like me, it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to revise every sentence a dozen times before moving on, only to go back ten pages a few minutes later and fiddle again.

The key, I realized, was to clearly delineate the writing and editing stages of the process. First drafts are supposed to be awful, and completely unfit for another’s eyes. (Seriously, don’t show your first draft to anyone!) So take off that editing hat, get your first draft down, and know you will come back later to wrestle it into shape.

This is something I’m still learning to do. The inner editor dies hard! To some extent, you have to stop caring so much about the writing and instead focus on the story that’s bursting to get out of your imagination and onto the page. When I force myself to just keep going, I often find that when I read over the work the next day, it’s really a lot better than I thought at the time. It’s less labored, more natural, more exciting, more genuine. And it’s words on the page, which means it’s that much closer to “The End.”

I’ve written a few writing and editing articles on my blog,, for anyone interested in more tips.


Thank you, Sara. And thank you to our readers for visiting and feel free to comment or ask questions.

Below is a blurb of Sara’s debut novel, Song of Scarabaeus. You can buy Sara's novel at all the usual places, including Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, etc.

Sara's website is

Blurb: Song of Scarabaeus

The best cypherteck in the galaxy, Edie can reinvent planets with little more than a thought. Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, her mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she's not entirely sure it's a bad thing… until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn—a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn's side, he dies. If she doesn't cooperate, the pirates will kill them both. But Edie's abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she'll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure… a world called Scarabaeus.

Thanks again for stopping by...

Dawn Chartier
Not An Angel, May 12, 2010


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great advice. Love your book cover and the blurb. Congratulations!

ninthmuse (roz m) said...

I can relate to what you said about going back to revise your first draft. I've learned so much about the writing craft since I finished the first version of my manuscript that I am stunned (in an awful way) by just how much of an overhaul the original needs before I can think of sending it off to anyone. Congratulations on the book release!

joviangeldeb said...

Hi. Great article and advice. I, too, waste alot of time trying to perfect my rough draft as I write it. That's why I go so slow. :)
Just knowing I'm not alone helps.

Love the cover and blurb. It sounds so interesting.
Take care,

Farrah Rochon said...

Wonderful post, Sara! For a while I, too, shared in the agony of trying to get the paragraph or a turn of a phrase just right before I could move on. There is such freedom in just putting [come back to this later] in yellow highlight and moving forward. :)

Congratulations on your debut! That cover is gorgeous and the blurb is so intriguing.

Rae Ann Parker said...

Sara, congratulations on the release of your debut novel! What a fun moment for the postal clerk to celebrate with you.

I learned to turn off my internal editor and just write my first draft (mostly) from doing Nanowrimo. I can't imagine how hard it would be for a real live editor to turn off that internal editor while writing. Your story sounds intriguing with wonderful characters.

Thanks for posting this, Dawn!

Sara Creasy said...

Yes, Nanowrimo is a great idea for churning out that first draft, as well as a good way to learn writing discipline and hopefully get into good habits (namely, write every day!).

Anonymous said...

It's great!!.............................................

Suzanne said...

Great post,Sara--thanks for bringing her over, Dawn! Sara, after working as an editor for more years than I care to admit, I know exactly what you mean. After reading Stephen King's book, On Writing, I finally took his (and your) advice and gave myself permission to produce a truly craptacular first draft. Otherwise, my inner editor would still be revising chapter one over and over and over....

Dawn Chartier said...

Turning that internal editor is so hard when writing, but I find I'm doing better now.

Thanks Sara and everyone for posting.


John Roundtree said...

Hi Sara!

Congratulations on your first release. Song of Scarabaeus sounds fascinating. Great reviews on Amazon!! Love your methods. I’m a strong believer in getting the story on paper, then letting the layers and edits come later. Wonderful blog, Dawn!

John Roundtree

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

Congratulations on your release, Sara, and thank you for sharing insight into your writing process. The book sounds great!

Lisa Marie

Nicholas Genovese said...

I know what you mean by internal editor. I can't get rid of mine no matter how hard I try because it's been deeply entrenched for about 37 years. It all started when I began to write extensively in my day time job as a tax administrator and in my night time job as an accounting college professor who wrote numerous tutorial aids. Both jobs required complete accuracy and I checked my writing as I went along. I even go back and change the spell check errors when they display in my emails. I keep trying to wait until I finish the email and check all the errors at once when I complete typing the email. But I'm addicted to correcting as I go along.


Anonymous said...

I can't find the button to turn my "internal editor" OFF! LOL!

Love the Blog look, Dawn, congrats!

And Sara, love your cover and blurb! Im adding this to my TBB list.

hugs, Kari Thomas,

Alice Abel said...

Yep -- it takes practice, and I'm committed to finishing my current ms. and be able to stand back and look at the whole thing.. getting some good coaching from an on-line group, too. It's so valuable to have critique partners, especially when they write in your genre.
Thanks Dawn for having this and to Sara for her valuable comments.
Best to all,

Anonymous said...

Hi! Congratulations on the book. I'm guessing you worked on biological or geography textbooks by the plot?

Your reflection on the inner editor was rather interesting. I'm actually having to turn on my internal editor for scientific writing. I'm finding it as hard to do, as you mention turning yours off!

I find in academic writing the expectation is that even a rough draft has to have every sentence as perfect as possible. (... or maybe my thesis adviser is just being overbearing. =)

Tina DeSalvo Callais said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us! It's inspiring to hear about other writers process in getting words to the page.

Dawn, Thanks for hosting Sara on your blogspot. Kuddos. BTW love your website! Hugs, Tina

VickyMcHenry said...

Great post, Sara, very helpful to me. I have been editing my first few chapters for months, over and over, and now I know why I am stuck on the story line! The editing is getting in the way. Thanks so much. Your story looks very intriguing -- wish I had half your imagination!

Veronika said...

I'm struggling with my own editing motivation with revising a synopsis for the third time. Is their anything worse to rewrite? Thanks for the blog post, this has motivated me to finally finish the darn thing!

Sara Creasy said...

Veronika, just about everyone I know hates writing synopses. Well, I love writing them! Maybe it's the editor in me coming out again - editors love to be clear and concise.

Keep those words churning out, everyone!

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