• Janie Crouch

FAQs - My Writing Process

FAQs about My Writing Process

1. How do you come up with your ideas?

Honestly, ideas come from me different ways. Usually it starts from ONE THING and grows

from there. The ONE THING can be a picture, a song, a quote, a scenario that pops up in my head...then grows and I start wrapping more and more plot around it until I finally have a story. (see info about my pre-writing process HERE). I also get a lot of ideas from TV, books, movies, current events, talks with my kids. Usually taking what I see and then moving it in an entirely different direction. I play a lot of "what if" in my mind.

I do create mood boards occasionally on Pinterest. I'd like to use them more, but generally I don't have the time to submerse myself into the characters/setting the way I'd like to.

Penumbra, an upcoming dystopian romance project: https://www.pinterest.com/janiecrouch/penumbra/

My favorite couples: https://www.pinterest.com/janiecrouch/couples-im-obsessed-with/

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

The term "writing" can be pretty broad. Here is my basic timeline. 1. PLOTTING: One week to plot out the story (see more about my pre-writing process HERE)

2. FIRST DRAFT: I try to write my first draft as quickly as possible. I generally dictate most of this draft, since dictation means I don't have to be chained to my computer. My goal is 3000 words/day (roughly 1.5 chapters), so 15,000 words a week.

I do not go back and re-read or edit during this time. I probably should, especially because the dictation often messes some stuff up. But I have found that plowing through is my best course of action with a first draft. This means that I leave a lot of notes for myself such as "add description here" because I don't want to stop the flow of words--I'm just trying to get through the basic plot down. Everything is fixed in a later draft.

So, for a Linear Tactical length book (70-75,000 words) it takes me roughly 5 weeks to bang out a first draft.

3. FIRST READ THRU: Mostly this is for plot continuity issues. Does everything make sense? Do any scenes need to be added? Plugging in any holes I left in the first draft or needed description. Generally give myself one week for this. Words are added during this read-thru.

At this point I send the book to 3-4 "Alpha" readers. These readers are checking that it makes sense and nothing needs to change. They understand they are still reading a pretty rough draft and do not try to make any grammatical corrections.

4. SECOND READ THRU: This is to tighten up the writing and make it as punchy and witty as possible. Words are generally cut during this read thru. Generally give myself one week for this also.

Misc Notes:

  • If I'm crunched for time, the first and second read-thru are sometimes combined. And my editor hates me :-|

  • So basically, it takes me 8 weeks to get a book from vague idea to handing it over to an editor. I will admit, after I give it to the editor, I will not read it again in its entirety. Some people think that's crazy, but I am too familiar with it by that time, so I hire other people to read it for me cover to cover and catch errors.

  • Once the book comes back from the editor, I make any of the suggested changes, then send it to 4-5 "Beta" readers. They are reading for any errors that made it through and any plot problems (although there shouldn't be many at this point). Then book goes to a final paid proofreader to make sure it's as perfect as possible.

  • Some authors let a book "breathe" for a couple weeks between drafts. I usually do not have the time to do that, so I just plow right in to the next draft.

  • I almost always only work on one project at a time. Sort of. When I'm in the midst of the first 8 weeks mentioned above, then yes, definitely only one project. But once the book has gone to the editor, I take a couple days off then am moving on to the next. So I may be doing edits for Book A and plotting Book B at the same time.

3. How do you know when a book is done?

In terms of plot, I work everything out ahead of time before I start writing, so I know when the the story ends. When I get to my last note card, then my book is over.

But how do you know when a book is ready to publish?

Well first, let me say something I very strongly believe: done is better than perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect book. That said, every author has to do decide what they are willing to publish with their name on it. I will not publish something that I believe will not be well-received (which, fortunately has not been an issue for me to date).

How do I know if it will be well-received? That's why I have 3-4 alpha readers, an editor, 4-5 beta readers, and a proofer. Of those dozen people, SOMEBODY (oh gosh, I hope) is going to tell me if the book sucks.

And believe me, I have emailed books to my alpha readers and said: "Hey, I think this might be terrible, and I need you to tell me so we can fix it". The good thing is, this is done early enough that I have time to make changes, if needed, before the book goes live.

For me, "is it done?" becomes a question of time and diminishing returns. How much "more better" will a book be if I take 4 months to write it instead of 2 months? Is there something that could be changed to make it better? Yes, always, forever and ever.

This why I give a book two full read-thrus, then it's given to people who are more objective. Could I read it again when it comes back from the editor and then again after the proofreader (and then one more time for good measure)? Yes, but I'd be adding 2-3 weeks on to my production schedule of every book. That is not worth it for me, where I am in this stage of my career.

But did I read my books more times when I was on, say, book 4, rather than 31? Absolutely. There's something to be said for the muscle memory of writing books. At this point, my brain knows what to do, I just have to let it do it. That was something that only came with time, and writing books.