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My Creative Process

A look into how I write the stories I publish here.

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 6 min read
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My Creative Process
Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Jogger’s Trail the Story Part 3, reader discretion is advised.

Since the release of the new community “Writers”, I have been racking my brain to think of what I could contribute. The best thing I could of is to show my writing process. Keeping well in mind that this likely only works for me but I thought it would give others a neat insight into my creative process.

The first thing I do is choose something to write, whether it’s for a Vocal challenge or something else. I have a file on my computer full of all the weird dreams and book ideas that I can pull from if I need inspiration.

So the first thing I do is pick an idea and start there, pictured below.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

From here I will start referring to my progress checklist. It’s worth noting that my Vocal checklist is a lot less detailed and more streamlined than the one for books I write. But for this article, the image below will serve the purpose nicely.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

In the image you can see a very long checklist followed by an information section, this is where I build the essence of the story. It has everything from notes I will add later to names of important locations, extra details I’d like to remember and a very basic character list.

As you can see in the image below, I already have some notes here due to my ongoing story that’s writing. Normally it would be empty and I’d have to do some filling-in either as I go or before I move on to the next phase.

Screenshot takenby Donna Fox

I often will wait until I’m outlining the plot or have finished it before I name characters, items and important places. My favourite thing to do when naming characters is to look up names with specific meaning, it helps me build the character and reminds me what my intentions are for them in the story. When naming things I also like to scramble or reverse the word, for example, in this story, the monsters are called Rellik which is killer spelled backwards.

That being said, I am in the middle of writing the 3rd part of the story so I don’t have to do too much creation/ naming here. All I needed to do before writing was write this instalments plot, as pictured below.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

Once I am happy with where the plot has landed I will start writing. The key for me when I start writing is to only go forward, I will write the story until it’s finished or until I get to the end of the plot. I do this without editing, not spelling, adding ideas or anything other than the plot at hand. If I want to add something or make a note of it I will add it in the “add to writing” section of my checklist. I do this because I have found that when I pause to add these details I get fixated on fixing my story and it stalls that entire process.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

I feel it is worth noting that I often do not write my stories in one sitting, even the first draft section can take several days, weeks or months depending on my writer's block and the creative process itself.

Once I am done writing I will move on to add other details that I made note of during the writing process. Things like extra descriptions of the characters, details of locations and other details. Then I can move on to my first editing phase, where I’ll be able to do some serious grammar and plot cleanup if need be.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

In the picture below you will a calculation that I use after I’ve done my editing, along with a note in the section we are in about a 10% increase or decrease in the word count. I do this for many reasons, one is to deter me from over-editing my work and don’t completely change the story. Two because I feel that if I do go over or under the word count then the story has changed and it’s cause for another round of editing.

That being said I have a personal rule that I can’t edit on the same day as I’ve written the story and I can’t re-edit on a day that I did editing. I do this because I have found that the days I allow myself to do this, the quality of my work goes down, seeing as I have the story memorized at that point. I need to give myself at least a nap or a good night’s sleep to forget enough to edit properly.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

As you can see in this picture below, I was able to stay within the word count and thusly move on to the next part of the checklist.

After this, I run it through a word processor. Grammarly is my current favourite, as it teaches me how to correct mistakes. Plus it allows for differences in languages like Canadian English vs American. Which is important to me since I am Canadian. 

I also like that it grades me in a sense, telling me about the correctness of the language used, my delivery and the engagement.

As you can see I have the free version and the other version would offer more help but I am of the opinion that too much help would pollute my authenticity as a writer.

After this, I do one more read, not only to double-check spelling but also just to make sure I like the way the story sounds in my head. Sometimes I get a little click happy and end up proving changes that I don’t actually want, things like mispronunciations of words because it might be a character flaw that I have intended.

Then I will request my husband (Alex) to read to me if he wants to. Some stories he’s not interested in but he will at least give them a go for me. This is both my way of having him involved in my work but also a way I can have someone unfamiliar with the story read it, he’s able to catch weird turns of phrases that I think are okay but he might feel are awkward. Or he’ll question word choices and meanings, giving me a chance to dispute it or use a thesaurus to find a better choice.

Below are a few pictures of my story in the binder, ready to be read when he chooses it.

Screenshot taken by Donna Fox

After this, I will play around on Vocal or AI art generators to find the title page I like. Then I will add the appropriate tags and warnings for the story, before publishing. As you can see the story I used to help create this article has no warnings, but this article does because I have pictures of an actual story I was working on.

As you can see this process is a tad extensive and has the potential to take a while. Which for me isn’t a bad thing because it gives me more opportunity to produce a story I am happy with.

I hope this was helpful if you needed it, and an enjoyable read. I’d love to know your thoughts and if you are feeling up to it, share some of your creative process with me!

Thank you for reading, if you are interested in the story I used to create this article the link is shown below.

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Donna Fox (HKB)

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Comments (13)

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  • Thavien Yliaster7 months ago

    I read this a while back, and need to take a hot minute to leave a good comment. Please remind me to leave a better one.

  • Rob Angeli8 months ago

    Great in-depth look into your process, Donna. I love your organization and discipline and actually believe it's best not to write a piece in one sitting, unless it just comes out that way.

  • ThatWriterWoman8 months ago

    Gosh, you are so well organized! Your meticulous planning really does shine through in your stories! Thank you for sharing this!

  • ema8 months ago

    Donna your organization is great! I try to make lists and schemes on Pc as well, but I often end up with a lot of sheets of paper around!

  • Naomi Gold8 months ago

    We are polar opposites in how we write, and in how we edit too. I do not use software and I edit the moment a story is fully written—which is usually in one sitting. Sometimes I’ll work on something a few hours straight. Other times, I’ll have to get up to make dinner or walk to work, but I’ll keep working on the story from my phone. Once I start I can’t stop. I make very few typos. The main thing I edit is unnecessary words. I never let anyone give me feedback, but that would change if it were a professional editor working for a publisher. This was so interesting, thank you for sharing.

  • Tina D'Angelo8 months ago

    Wow! I'm impressed. I would write my own story about how I plan my writing but it would be about two sentences long and end with, Meh, good enough.

  • Mark Gagnon8 months ago

    Okay, you're the smartest, or at least the most detailed, kid in the room. My process: sit in front of the computer, turn it on, start writing, Look up info as needed, check, and publish. Probably why I get so few TS. Impressive!

  • Alexander McEvoy8 months ago

    Wow that check list was kind of intimidating! I always love hearing about different writers' process because they are all so completely different to my own! This was a fascinating look at how you create your amazing stories, and I am so happy to have come along for the ride :) Completely agree with the difficulties between Canadian and US English, I do a lot of my writing on Campfire and not being able to change the setting is something that really sticks in my teeth.

  • You made my jaw drop at your progress checklist and your character list thingy. Like whoaaa, you're so organised and detailed! I have never done any of that before. I'm truly amazed by how dedicated you are! However, we are same in the sense where I too don't edit on the same day I write and I don't re-edit the same day I edit. My brain would be so exhausted so it won't function optimally, lol!

  • L.C. Schäfer8 months ago

    You have an algorithm for creation, that fascinates me 😁 Your entire process fascinates me. I just make a gash and bleed on to the page 🤔

  • Rachel Deeming8 months ago

    I found this super interesting. A very involved and thorough process. A window into your writing world.

  • Mohammed Darasi8 months ago

    That is a very thorough process! I think you described it really well and if someone is of similar mindset about writing, they would find this very helpful, and it's always nice seeing how other people go about writing. I always want to be as organised, but honestly, if I don't just start writing the story, I would lose interest. I feel like If I extensively plan the story, writing it after would feel like writing another story. I can sit for hours writing something and wouldn't get bored, as long as I write it while planning at the same time. I like what you said about not editing in the same day you write it. I feel the same, because the story is so fresh in the mind, small mistakes can easily be missed because the brain almost fills it in subconsciously. I come back to things I've written after a few days and notice silly mistakes 🤣

  • River Joy8 months ago

    I long to be as organized and vigilant as you are! I think that's probably why I can do short spurts and not anything super long-form. This was so interesting to read!

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