Category Archives: writing methods


>I’m a fan of placeholders while I write. I use them for names, scenes, moments, and pretty much anything else I’m not tackling right that second. For instance, you can’t write everything at once but sometimes ideas come in clumps. So instead of either jumping around and finishing nothing or feeling paralyzed because I don’t know what to focus on, I take a minute to write a brief placeholder. That way I don’t forget about my idea, but at the same time, I can keep moving forward with what I’m already writing.

It’s basically in-line note taking. It’s right in the manuscript so I can’t lose it. And I won’t forget to work on it later when I have time. I write my placeholders in all caps because I’ve found they’re easier to see that way when I’m scrolling through my book. It’s also a handy method when you haven’t named a character yet but you don’t want to stop to figure one out. I often just put “NAME” as I write.

Do you use a similar method when you write or something totally different?

>How I Write: A Visual Guide


My WIP in miniature. I write one scene per index card to get the big picture.
My notebooks for my WIP. Once an idea for a novel gets serious, it gets its own notebook. I only used the art pad at the beginning stages of plotting. I found it useful for working out timelines especially. The top notebook is now full so I’ve moved on to the one underneath for rewriting notes.
The art pad also came in handy for working out the order of scenes. I used sticky notes for that. It was an experiment based on something I read about another writer’s methods. Not sure I’ll do it that way again though. Didn’t quite work for me.
My writing tools for this WIP all together like one happy family.
My writing partner-in-crime these days. How did I ever live without you?
My printed manuscript, after the first cuts.

>My Attempt at Outlining (What I Learned)


Writing methods seem to vary as much as writing genres. What helps one writer can cramp another’s style. Working on my current novel has given me new insight into how I work. I did some experimenting with my methods last year, trying out full-blown outlining for fun. Didn’t go over so well, and after a while, I dumped the idea and went to how I usually work and finally got my book written (yay!). However, I did learn some things in the process, including tricks that I will take with me to the next project.

1. It never hurts to try something new. Despite complaining (mostly to my sister) about how much longer it took me, I’m still glad I tried outlining. If I hadn’t tried it, I would never know if it works for me or not.

2. Even if an entire process doesn’t work, you can still glean things from it. No, I will never attempt a full-fledged outline ever again. But in the process of attempting it, I refined my own work methods and I consider that to be a plus.

3. You work how you work, and that’s fine. Part of the reason I tried outlining was because I felt like I was doing things the wrong way. Recently, I read a post by author Carolyn Hart who described her work methods and they are strikingly similar to my own. And she’s published over forty books. So I think my method is OK after all.

The funny thing is I work pretty much the same way I did in middle school. I keep all my random ideas in spiral-bound notebooks with pretty prints on the cover. Once ideas for a novel really start to take shape, the story gets its own notebook. When working on a novel or short story, I can only go so far with the idea in my head. There comes a point when I have to hit the page or the details will never emerge or solidify. I often have to write to find out what happens next, and I rather like it that way. I’ve been surprised so many times while writing, and that means my readers will be too.

So how do you write? What methods have you tried? What have you learned from them?

Fabulous photography by Pink Sherbet Photography