Swoon Author Chani Lynn Feener: The Extremely Glamorous and Exciting Life of a Writer
Everyone in my life pretty much knows by now not to bother me when I’m writing a first draft. Partly because I’m so engrossed in the world and characters I’m creating that I hardly notice people who are real and not fictional, but also partly due to the fact that I’m… seriously boring during this time. Like, seriously boring.
Typically, my day goes like this: I wake up, start the coffee machine, make my bed, take out my dog, come back to get a cup of said coffee while I scroll through emails, Instagram, and return text messages, etc. Then I sit down at my desk and turn on my computer, and check my bullet journal for any other tasks I might have to complete that day.
Usually what I like to do is set a small goal for myself the day before. So, if my end goal is around 100,000 words, then I might make my daily goal 20k. If I managed to get more than that the day prior, or I have a tighter deadline, then I might try for 30. That all depends on how comfortable I feel with my deadline, and where I’m at in it. I’m the type of person who works best under pressure, so the tighter the deadline, the better I’ll work and the more I’ll be able to produce. The story tends to come to me more vividly this way, whereas lengthy deadlines usually result in me dragging my feet or getting distracted by, say, Netflix, because “I’ve got the time.”
If I’m just sitting down to start a book, I typically have no idea where it’s going. I’ll know the main character's name and the love interest's name (ideally, anyway, sometimes I don’t), and I’ll have a basic concept or setting. For example, with the Xenith trilogy, I knew about Delaney, Ruckus, and that somehow Ruckus was going to accidentally kidnap her after mistaking her for his planet's princess. I didn’t know about Mariana yet, or even that Olena was Olena (and since we hadn’t met, she hadn’t yet told me how awful she was either!). I really just like to start a book—for the most part—blind.
However, that changes once I’m a chapter or two in. After that, I generally start each day with a rough idea of what I’m going to be writing about. I can’t see much further than a scene or chapter ahead, but it’s enough for me to confidently sit down and work for a couple hours straight.
Then I take a coffee break.
If I’m feeling particularly far along, or I need to really step back from something and work it out before I put it to paper, I’ll grab something for lunch.
Then I’ll sit back down and start writing again (I’m sure by now you’re following the whole “boring” aspect of this). Oh, but sometimes I’ll have to take the dog out again between these steps! Riveting, right?
I’ll keep writing until around five in the afternoon, when my family starts flooding in making all kinds of noise. By then, I’ve usually gotten done what I wanted and can check my goal off my bullet journal list, and set a new one for the next day. I do not read back what I’ve written; I save that for the first read-through of the completed first draft at the very end.
I do take notes during this stage though, so that I’ll be aware during this read-through that something happened in chapter eight that changes a sentence or plot point back in chapter three. This way I don’t forget anything.
After I stop writing, I save and backup my work for the day, close my notebook, take the dog for a walk, then make dinner.
You’re probably thinking, “Oh, well that’s good. It’s probably only around six after all of that. She can still go out with friends and stuff.” Nope. After writing for an entire day I am completely burned out and just want to be left alone with Netflix and some (decaf) coffee, thank you very much.
If I’m not catching up on tv shows, I’ll either work on an art project, read, or play a meaningless game on my phone until around 3 a.m. when I finally decide to go to bed.
And it all starts over again the next day.
I left out the bits about me talking and mumbling to myself throughout all of this—sometimes bumping into things because I’m too distracted to realize, oh hey, there’s a chair there—but I bet you got the gist. I’m not bored during any of this, of course, I’m off in LaLa Land doing things like running away from mean alien soldiers. But to an outsider… watching a writer do their thing is typically pretty bland.
Sort of like this blog post! If you read all the way to the end, I appreciate it, and I hope I added enough info on my writing process so that this wasn’t actually a boring read. Either way, I’m off to pack in as many “land of the living” hours as I can, before it’s time for me to start another book.
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