My Noveling Process [in gifs]

Noveling is a process. It’s arduous. The Arduous Process looks different for everyone, but I just want to share a snapshot of what noveling is like for me, personally.

Obviously, there will be gifs.

Here it is from start to finish (because there comes a point where a novel is finished, right? RIGHT????).

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The Spark of Creation (aka: when an new story idea strikes).

The moment of inspiration is different for every novel, but the moment it takes root, there’s no going back.

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This is the part where I cheat on the novel I was working on by thinking about and creating playlists and Pinterest boards for my new idea. It’s all fun and games in the beginning, when it’s forbidden.

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^^^ me having fun with all the new characters and plot bunnies and worldbuilding nerdiness ^^^

Everything is shiny and new and exciting about this idea, and I’m usually pretty jacked and acting kind of weird around the house.

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It’s very much like the beginning of The Lion King, when everything is bright and hopeful and beautiful.

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I am Rafiki; Simba is the new idea

Drafting Begins (aka: I write the rough draft of the novel).

It’s time to get started! All the Pinteresting and playlist-making and movie-trailer-dreaming has come to this, and it’s time to start actually writing the novel. I couldn’t be happier!

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Two chapters into the novel:

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But I’m not stressed because I’m a discovery writer, which means I don’t plot out a novel before I write it; I just start with some inspiration and make most of it up as I go along (because what can possibly go wrong with that?).

This leads us to the next phase: intermittent snacking.

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The time eventually comes to kill off the first character. I usually meet this challenge with a healthy mixture of maniacal zest and sincere sorrow.

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I also tend to get stuck in research ruts, which is where I spend five and a half hours researching one minute detail (which I’ll probably end up throwing out further down the line in the editing process).

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^^^ me after getting stuck in a  research rut ^^^

By this point, we’re where everything is falling apart for the characters, and my main character has reached their lowest point (this is often called “the dark night of the soul”). All their hopes and dreams (and maybe even some of their loved ones) have gone up in smoke. It’s a very traumatic time. For the main character. Less so for me.

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^^^ me watching my characters hopes and dreams (and maybe even some loved ones) go up in smoke ^^^

Inevitably, I slow to a halt and spend a while existential crisis-ing.

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Shortly after this, I complete the first draft, which is hands down one of the most amazing feelings of this whole process.


Editing Begins (aka: I try to fix up the story to make it presentable to others, and it promptly falls apart).

Editing usually begins well. I typically take a few month break (sometimes even more) between my first draft and my second draft and am thus very refreshed and ready to dig into my novel once more.

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I read the first draft, which often feels like I’m discovering the novel for the first time all over again. Except this time without all the frills and euphoric visions. No, this time, I read it with all the cynicism my dual personality can muster.

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^^^ actual footage of me reading dialogue from my first drafts ^^^

And then I begin to notice that there are some, well, some rather large problems that my witty back and forth banter with myself won’t fix.

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Then, I lose all comprehension of all words, story craft, plot structure, character building, etc..

Enter from stage right: the Google search.

Typical Editing Phase 1 Google searches look like:

  • how to tell if your novel has a plot
  • yikesyikesyikesyikes
  • how to plot a novel
  • why does my main character need to have a goal?
  • how to write a plot twist
  • wHaT IS A pLOt?
  • is my novel trash?
  • save me

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People generally think it’s pretty cool that I write novels, and this is the part (when I can’t recall the difference between an inciting incident and a plot twist) where they ask about it. I can’t help myself but respond thusly:

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Editing Continues (aka: something has gone terribly wrong with the story and I’m still editing it a year and a half later).

It’s usually at this juncture that I find some irreparable plot hole and can’t cope.

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me, not being able to cope with the gaping hole in my plot

Eventually, I do learn to cope…

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because if you can’t fix it, you might as well burn it

As I said, some people are kind enough to check in with me every once in a while. They’ll ask me again about my novel, to which I reply like Edna Mode:

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which is really code for “I’m dying*

Despair and confusion continues.

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And continues…

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After I’ve spent three years of my life editing a novel….

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After I’ve reworked that first chapter approximately 4543 times:

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Again, with the thoughtful, invested people asking me how the novel is coming:

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I am Mike, the inquisitor is Sully, the novel is Boo.

But then I start to get a second (or maybe this is the third? Or fourth? Or fifth?) wind, and things start to turn around. Something clicks in my brain; I get some sort of breakthrough. I see how to take this novel to the next level and end this hell editing.

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we all knew this gif was coming

I respond in the only way I can.

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In general, there is Renewed Vigor, and I’m ready to kick this novel in the butt.

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^^^ me and my Renewed Vigor ^^^

Me to my Renewed Vigor:

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And then, some time later, I finish the novel.

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And there it is, friends.

My noveling process from start to finish. Now, please excuse me while I get back to editing my novel.

What does your process look like?

With love,


p.s. – this was going to be a serious post, but that clearly didn’t happen, lol. Someone *cough cough* let themselves loose on a gif-hunt, and now here we are.

p.p.s. – I think I may have used a record number of gifs in this post. I was also a bit loopy while putting together this post because I’ve been staying up late working on my novel and am thus a little sleep-deprived.

20 Ways to Fill Your Empty Notebooks

Raise your hand if you have more than five empty notebooks languishing somewhere in your house.

Okay, now keep your hand up if you have 10 empty notebooks. 15?? 20? 25??? 5000??

You can put your hands down now (full disclosure, I never saw if your hands were up or down for obvious reasons).

Any decent person has at least 3 empty notebooks in their custody at any given time. For those of you who don’t have 3 empty notebooks, well, we still love you (for the most part…. most of the time).

Ahem. This post is for the decent people who find themselves with an abundance of empty notebooks.

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  1. Bullet Journal (aka: The Ultimate Journal).

This is an amazing journal to keep because you can use it in so many ways. A bullet journal can be your day planner, your calendar, your money tracker, your book tracker, and where you keep track of your favorite names (wait, you don’t compulsively collect the names you like???) all in one. That is why this is The Ultimate Journal. It can hold as much or as little as you want.

  1. Devotions Journal.

The devotions journal is another essential. This is where you can write down all your notes from your quiet time 1) to help process what you’re learning 2) to write down tangible application (aka: action you will take in light of your time in devotions) and 3) to revisit them later.

  1. Favorite Quotes Journal.

Quotes are easy to like but difficult to keep track of if you don’t have a central place to keep them. Hence the favorite quotes journal. Find a quote you like, flip to a fresh page in this journal, and jot it down.

  1. Thanksgiving Journal.

Cultivating a thankful heart goes a long way when it comes to discontentment, anxiety, and even depression, and one way to work towards being more intentionally grateful is to keep a journal filled with things you’re thankful for. Try to come up with a couple new things to put in this journal every morning, and it will slowly change your attitude.

  1. Morning Pages.

Morning pages are supposed to be done right after you wake up in the morning. You tumble out of bed, grab a pen, and start scrawling. You’re supposed to write anything and everything that comes into your mind in an attempt to help you have greater focus throughout the day. Once you’ve scratched out three pages of stream-of-conscious thought, you set the pen down and begin your day. Personally, morning pages aren’t all that helpful for me, but they help Abbiee a lot, and so you should think about trying them out for a week.

  1. Reading Journal.

When reading a book (especially nonfiction), it can be very helpful to journal as you go to help process all the information that you’re taking in, and a journal dedicated to such a practice is perfect.

  1. Food Diary.

This one’s good for people who like to be fit. If you bite it, you write it.

  1. Writing Exercise Notebook.

No, not exercise like crunches or anything like that (I just wanted to clarify for those of us who are triggered by exercise). The writing exercises I’m talking about are free writing, answering a prompt, trying to rework a sentence, or any other writing related task given from a writing workbook/book on the craft. Instead of loose leaf pages floating around and piling up in awkward places, consolidate all your writing exercises to a single notebook.

  1. Language Journal.

This is for those of us who are learning a foreign language. If you don’t already keep a language journal, I don’t know how you survive. For me, keeping a language journal while taking Spanish helped me keep track of new rules, write down vocab to make into flashcards for later, conjugate verbs, etc.. So if you’re learning a new language, consider starting a language journal.

  1. Discipleship Journal.

A discipleship journal is a tracker of sorts for people who are discipling other people. After the disciple-maker meets with the disciple, say for lunch, the disciple-maker jots down a few things: thoughts on the meeting in general, specific things to pray for the disciple, good questions to ask the disciple at the next casual meeting, and so on and so forth. If you’re serious about discipleship, you may want to think about starting a discipleship journal.

  1. Blog Log.

Okay, this is not a log really, but “Blog Log” sounds better than “Blog Journal” or “Blog Notebook” (guys, how it sounds is half the importance of the whole idea). Everything blog related goes in this notebook: long hand drafts of posts, ideas for future posts, schedule for posts, etc.. Of course, because I’m obsessed only mildly with this blog, I’ve had a blog log for quite some time.

  1. Mindmapping.

Mind maps. I’m not sure if it’s one word or two, and they’re tricky things that I have yet to master BUT I’VE READ THAT THEY’RE SO HELPFUL. So go look them up and think about using one of your notebooks for mindmapping. (This point = perfect precision.)

  1. Poetry Journal.

If you have poetry skills–and maybe even if you don’t–put them to use in this journal.

  1. Doodle Practice Notebook.

So you doodle professionally (be honest, it’s most likely for your bullet journal). Why not keep all your doodles (aka: bullet journal practice) in one place?

  1. Mutual Love Note.

This is such a cute one for married couples! You exchange love notes in a journal that you swap back and forth, and it makes what’s called a Mutual Love Note.

  1. Novel Notes.

Anything related to your novel goes in here: outline, character sketches, snippets of dialogue, etc.. If it pertains to your novel, it goes in here. This is helpful so that you aren’t digging around your desk for that scrap of napkin you wrote that piece of backstory on because it all goes in the novel notebook.

  1. Your Novel.

In the event that you are a slightly insane yet very swanky almost-human (aka: an author), you can choose to write your novel out by hand. With a pen. In a notebook. By hand. With a pen. By hand. Your whole novel. With a pen. In a notebook. By hand. I may be repeating things because I’m in awe of people who do this; namely you, Nadine Brandes.

  1. Flash Fiction Journal.

Personally, I like to write out the first drafts of my flash fictions by hand. Keeping all these rough (very rough) draft flash fictions in a journal helps me know where to find them and somehow makes me feel like a genius (true story, kids, and it’s got nothing to do with the fact that my flash fiction journal is a blue notebook that has “Brilliant Ideas” emblazoned on the cover).

  1. Memory Journal.

I wasn’t sure what to call this one. It’s the very base idea of a journal, the most fundamental kind that has ever been kept–a diary, a vault for memories made of paper and ink. You track history and emotion and upheaval and the daily grind in this bad boy. It is, perhaps, the first kind of journal.

Well, I’m going to abruptly and awkwardly end this post now with a misshapen bookend.

What do you usually use notebooks for? Do you have any empty ones lying around? Do you think you’ll use any of the ideas listed above?

With love,


P.S. – the amazing Kara Swanson is still accepting applications to the launch team for The Girl Who Could See!!! Go sign up and spread the word with me!

P.P.S. – who here noticed that I skipped #19?

P.P.P.S. – who here now feels like the title of this post is a misleading lie in light of the previous post script? And don’t raise your hand because we already went over the whole hand-raising thing not working at the beginning of this post.

The Wisteria Writer’s Tag: Penprints Edition

There are a lot of writer tags running around the internet these days, and the one I’ve been seeing the most of is the Wisteria Writer’s Tag. Today I’m participating in it because the darling Alea from Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings tagged me last week. You should go check out her blog (talk about swanky photoshop skills over there, plus Alea’s just amazing).

Here’s how this tag works: thank the person who tagged you, answer their ten writing questions, add your own set of ten questions, and tag some more people.

So here we go (hold onto your hats, ladies and gents, because Alea came up with some pretty swanky questions, and I came up with some significantly less swanky answers).


1. If you could be the author of any published book, which one would you pick and why?

Hmmm. This one is tough. Part of me jumps immediately to A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (surprise, surprise), but part of me wants to say Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. And yet another part of me goes then non-fiction route and says Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous. I say one of those three because I wish that I had my spiritual ducks in a row enough to write any of them.

2. Do you ever daydream about your book at school/work?

The better question is when don’t I daydream about my stories at work. One of my jobs is at an antique shop, and that place seems to be the perfect place for my muse to come out and chat. I wrote almost all of Flickering Lights in my head while I was at work. If it’s a fresh idea, I’m definitely dreaming about it in my head.

3. When do you write best?

At night. Once everyone else has gone to sleep. The house is silent and dark. I strike a match, light my favorite taper candle, and get to work. I think this works best for me because there are no interruptions or distractions; it’s just me, God, and my writing.

4. What are your favorite writing snacks?

Dove chocolate, sparkling grape juice, cream soda, gummy bears, and apple juice all feed my muse (I know, I know, the healthiness is overwhelming). Apparently (and unfortunately), my muse seems to detest healthy snacks. (For non-writer peeps, a muse is a thing we writers like to think we have, but it’s all in our heads… like our books.)

5. Is writing easier after reading something?

Excellent question! Not really. Usually, after I’ve read a book, my head is full of that story, and it’s hard to focus on my own. However, if it’s a book on writing craft, like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, then I am eager to jump into my writing right away.

6. What does your dream book cover look like?

Covers. Oh. I honestly haven’t been able to dream up a suitable cover for my WIP (that’s a work-in-progress, my non-writer lovelies), but I’m thinking possibly red on black. Possibly some claw marks somewhere? Or a black rose? Or both? Beasts (my WIP) is the darkest thing I’ve ever written (sorry, Mom), and so I don’t think the cover would be all that cheery, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what would fit the story. Ugh, and now I really want to come up with a brilliant cover that will knock off a bunch of socks.

7. Does your writing style resemble that of your favorite authors?

Probably not. I want it to, but I’m not there (yet?). I think I have a slightly sardonic tone akin to Robin McKinley (maybe, MAYBE). I try for the richness in Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s writing but that’s a major emphasis on the try. I want to be able to pack a spiritual punch like Nadine Brandes, but alas, still working on that too. My writing style is mainly weird, and so I’m going to have to stick with my first answer that it probably doesn’t resemble that of my favorite authors.

8 . Coffee or tea as writing fuel?

Tea and hot chocolate all the way (what is that you say? Hot chocolate wasn’t an option? To which I say: whatever). I’ve tried to like coffee so hard so many times, I just…. can’t. I want to like it, but… no. It’s like coffee is an affront to my nature (shhhh, let’s keep that between you and me because some people are coffee crazies and would tar and feather me for calling coffee an affront). So I take a mug of green tea with two tablespoons of French vanilla creamer because I’m a sugar junkie in case you hadn’t noticed.

9. NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo.

I don’t have a preference. Possibly neither. *gasp* *gasp* *gasp* (My dear non-writer peeps, it’s against some ancient unwritten law for a writer to even possibly dislike a form of NaNo.) Here’s the dealio: I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) way back in 2014, and I won (50,000 words in 30 days, whoop whoop!)! And then I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July of this year and failed miserably (less than 20,000 words in 30 days, less whoop whoop…). It was rough. I’m trying to figure out if either NaNoWriMo works for me or not… so, yeah… I’m just going to let this sentence trail off some more…

10. Share your favorite sentence from your WIP.

I can’t do just one, but I’ll settle for two. I’m doing my favorite descriptive sentence and my favorite sentence regarding a character.

A descriptive line: The sun drives away the clouds of the night, sparkling through thousands of tiny droplets of water, millions of tiny prisms shifting with the morning light as it overtakes the horizon. – Beasts

A character line: If purple was a creature, Faye would be it. – Beasts

And that is the Wisteria Writer’s Tag: Penprints Edition.

Thank you so much for tagging me, Alea!

Now, I tag…

J. L. Mbewe.

Brittany on New Authors Fellowship.

Gabriela over at A Heart Redeemed.

Victoria from Wanderer’s Pen.

Katie at A Writer’s Faith.

Here are your questions:

1. What was/is the inspiration for your current WIP?

2. What does your writing process look like? Plotter? Panster? A little bit of both?

3. What is one thing you do well in writing? Description? Characters? Dialogue?

4. What is one thing you struggle to do well in writing?

5. How much does your relationship with Christ impact your writing (if at all)?

6. What inspires you to keep writing and write better?

7. Do you get lots of ideas or just one every now and then?

8. What is your go-to book on writing craft and why?

9. What stage are you at in your WIP?

10. What do you think makes a book good/worth reading?

I’m officially dropping a bookend on this post, my dears!

Have you heard of the Wisteria Writer’s Tag? What are your thoughts on NaNo vs. Camp NaNo? Do you snack and write (are they sugary snacks, because if they are, we’re basically twins)?

P.S. – let’s not even begin to go into how many parenthetical phrases I used in this post.