Since last time, I described how From Out of the Shadows started, I thought it would be good to explain how I went about actually writing it.
My writing process is actually not nearly as organized as I would like it to be and it has changed a lot over time. For example, before I even began From Out of the Shadows, I didn’t have a computer of my own, so all the writing I did was done either by hand or later using an app called Werdsmith on my iPod, once I purchased one. Eventually, I started using Wattpad in place of Werdsmith, though still on my iPod.
That has changed dramatically.
I often hear that writers prefer to write by hand because it’s “more natural” and “helps the words flow better,” but honestly, I’ve never seen that. My ideas come to me just as quickly and easily when I’m typing at a computer and it’s so much harder to edit on the go when you’re handwriting. Plus, my handwriting looks like something they would have dug out of Mesopotamia. So, of course, I abandoned that option as quickly as possible.
Writing on an iPod had issues too. It’s just so much less efficient. Everything takes longer to type and it’s just much more irritating to use writing softwares on. The iPod was not meant for writing.
Eventually, I did get a laptop of my own for my fourteenth birthday, to help with school, and I started the first draft of From Out of the Shadows on that laptop. I was in Grade 9 at the time, and this is when my writing process started to “develop” more.
I put “develop” in quotations because, as I mentioned, I honestly don’t have a routine. There is no strict process for me.
Now, part of this chalks up simply to the fact that it just wasn’t possible for me to do that. Unfortunately, when it comes to homework and writing, homework has to take precedence. So, even if I did try to set a schedule, it would just be interrupted by studying or projects. I had to work around school.
Once I got a job, this problem got even worse. Suddenly, I had work eating up time as well, and since again, school is more important (sadly), that meant writing time was even more crunched. There was simply no way for me to decide, “Right, on Saturdays, I will write from 1:00-4:00pm,” or something. Work and school didn’t allow for that.
There was another issue with trying to set a regimented schedule, however: writer’s block. Writer’s block is the bogeyman of the writing world. It has the power to completely halt the writing process and I’ll do another blog post someday devoted to just writer’s block.
For now, it’s just important to establish that it was there and it does not care about schedules. If I had writer’s block and couldn’t get rid of it, that was it. I had to write as the inspiration allowed.
That’s still how it goes, honestly. After quitting my job, I definitely had more time on my hands and with the pandemic, I have even more of it (although school is still a thing and marketing is now eating writing time). You might think that would allow me to set up a schedule, but honestly, I haven’t bothered.
I know there are some writers who like to set up routines, and if that’s what works for you, by all means, go for it. Me though? Unlike many other things in my life, writing is something I just can’t schedule. Some days, I can write for hours without even stopping, but others, it can be hard to put down more than a sentence. My writing is governed entirely by my ability to write and how much free time I have to do it.
Which isn’t to say that I won’t try to force myself to write, because really, putting down just one sentence is not the most productive way to do things, but I’ve also come to realize that sometimes, you simply can’t force it. You need to just do something else instead for a bit, and if all you can get out is one sentence, well, better to let one good sentence happen than force out a bad chapter.
As far as the technicalities go, I wrote From Out of the Shadows using Microsoft Word, but a family friend was kind enough to set me up with a software called Scrivener. After exploring it a bit, I now use Scrivener exclusively. Word now only exists for school and as a place to export Scrivener documents. I will probably do a blog post in the future more about Scrivener, but for now, it’s enough to say that it’s the program I choose to work with.
I also only write when I have music. I cannot write without it. I mean, technically I can, but it helps so much. It brings along some extra inspiration and drowns out any irritating background noises. Typically, while writing, I listen to instrumental pieces (Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, and Colossal Trailer Music are among my favourite artists for it) but some days, I’ll put on metal or hard rock instead. Which is odd, the lyrics can definitely throw me off, which is why I very rarely do so, but sometimes, it just works. I also seal myself away in my room to further eliminate any distractions. While I'm writing, enter at your own risk.
So, I suppose that’s it. This ended up being longer than I wanted but I suppose it’s a bit of a bigger topic. The next one will be shorter (hopefully).
Well, this is new.
I have never done a blog before and thus really don’t know quite where to start. But, as many a fictional character has pointed out, perhaps the beginning is the best place. So, let’s kick this off with a look into how “From Out of the Shadows” came to be.
I feel like there are a lot of authors who have really interesting stories about how they came up with their books. A crazy dream, a real-life experience, a sudden spike of inspiration at the most random time possible…
I’m not that interesting, sadly.
Honestly, I just wanted to write a book. That’s all there is to it. For almost as far back as I can remember, I’ve been trying to write books. The very first was a comic book created in Grade 1, about a bald eagle and a rather unfortunate rabbit. Soon to follow would be a tale of velociraptors and their evil foe, the “Alastairsaurus,” a non-fiction piece about moose, and countless other little stories. Eventually, as a school assignment, we had to write a story based on a wordless series of pictures, which our teacher actually bound and turned into little books of our own creation.
That was a magical feeling.
There are all sorts of tales I could tell about my early writing, but that’s a topic for another day. The point is, I’ve had a thing for writing pretty much my entire life.
I think I was around ten when my dad told me about Gordan Korman, a Canadian author who published his first novel when he was just 13. My dad would tell me how I could be the next Gordan Korman and publish even sooner than that.
Clearly, that never happened. But it did solidify my goals to publish a book. The idea of becoming an author, whether I was 12 or 13 or 82, suddenly became so much more than just an idea.
It was a dream.
In Grade 7, I discovered the game Dungeons & Dragons, and hoo boy, was that ever a whole new can of worms. I had some truly memorable experiences playing that game with my friends, but on top of that, I also tapped into a whole new well of inspiration. This was also the time when my obsession with Lord of the Rings went from casual to absolutely off the charts.
A brand new love for high fantasy had been born.
So, I got to work writing my very first novel: Varis Galanodel, the story of an elven druid who wages a war against a terrifying demon god. It was entirely based upon the lore and characters of D&D, but it was my own creation and the very first novel-sized piece of writing I ever created.
Varis Galanodel is an abysmal work of fiction and will never see the light of day, but! It showed me that I had what it took. It was the final push I needed to get to work on “From Out of the Shadows.”
And so, that’s how it began, really. After years of writing and dreaming, I knew I was finally ready to go for the big one.
So, I started thinking. I thought about my favourite books, my favourite characters, my favourite villains. I thought about what kind of book I wanted to write, the kind of book I’d want to read. I looked at authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and R.A. Salvatore for inspiration, found the parts of their stories I loved the most and thought about how I could make that my own.
And then one day, it finally came together. The fragments of characters and plots and ideas I’d been shaping in my head finally wove themselves together into one, grandiose story.
All that was left was to pull out my laptop, open a fresh Word document, and begin.