My Pre-Writing Writing Process

On Friday, I was tagged by Annabelle Hazard of Written by the Finger of God to share with you my writing process. Me. Cristina. My writing process. Let me process that for a second (can you hear me squealing with delight?) Then I thought, crap. What is my writing process? Thank goodness I had the weekend to think about this. So, I winged up some prayers to my writing partner, St. Francis de Sales and let my mind wander at the questions that needed to be answered in this post.

My Pre-Writing Writing Process via @fillpraycloset #writing #writingprocessblogtour
Since Canva is over capacity, this is what you get. A 4 year old picture of me browsing with a doggie at my feet and papers on my lap. Yes, I always have that furrowed brow look, even when I sleep. Just ask Mike. Thanks, Canva.

What are you working on?

I thought about this question all weekend, because, what am I working on, really? What can I call it? Walk with me, will you? I had a lot of cleaning to do this weekend. I know, all glamour, like my friend Tiffany always says. Living in a house of boys makes for very long bathroom cleaning sessions. How do I motivate myself? I listen to podcasts, and not just any old podcast. I listen to writing podcasts. This weekend, I was listening to Writing Excuses: Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart. Man I love that tagline. I listened to 10 of them as I cleaned. I should also add that the podcasts range from 17-22 minutes. So you do the math. I was CLEANING.

As I listened, the topic of Pre-Writing came up. What is pre-writing? According to Brandon on the show, because we’re now BFFs (shh he doesn’t know), pre-writing is “all the stuff you do before you write. That doesn’t mean… I’m not talking about having your breakfast. I’m talking about all the writing sort of things you do.” Every day, I am writing in my journal about this idea I have. I won’t use the N word (novel) because that’s scary. That’s like the “I’ve got it all together” word and we all know I don’t. I have some characters I think about and wonder about their past and future. I think of what their parents were like, their fears and hopes. I’m writing all of this down. I have loose snippets of story and am gathering, “oh that could be interesting” stuff. That’s what I’m working on. And for 90 minutes-2 hours most days. I say most, because, it doesn’t happen on the weekends. I’m cleaning, remember?

What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?

What is my genre? Wait, that’s not a question. I tend to answer questions with questions. So far? I think the pre-writing that I am doing can be considered Catholic Quasi-Dystopian Sci-Fi? Could that work? Or does that sound completely nuts? I had no idea that I would set out to write anything like that. I thought I was a memoir chick and that was going to be that. But, that’s hard. Not conventionally speaking, because my blog is quite memoir-ish (yes, that’s a word today), but because when writing, you have to pluck details that materialize in the readers’ minds eye. You want them to smell the blood in your memory that’s already dried with time. But as one who experienced all of it, the last thing you want to do is remember those little details like the low mumbling sound of a radio playing PM Dawn or something. You know? If I couch it, the memoir, within the context of a novel, I give myself a layer of protection, does that make sense? I can keep perfectly organized boxes of untouched-for-years memories, right where they are, and pull one down at a time as I need to, instead of having them all around me. That stuff sticks and I have a life to live, books to write and bathrooms to clean.

Why do you write what you do?

I write because it’s how my mind sings. I know, that’s all very romantic. I am a classically trained opera singer. It’s not easy, there’s a lot of mechanics to it, but, when you have that down, you can make music. You can crescendo or decrescendo marking words for the deepest impact on the audience. It’s quite the same with writing for me. I add a word, or take one away, but it’s all to make the “great art”. I thrive on wordplay, making the reader feel the blow or serenity that I am feeling as I put the words to the page.

How does your writing process work?

This is my first writing process for a longer-than-a-blog-post piece. (Avoiding that n-word like nobody’s business). Generally though, I tend to go for emotional shifts. What tugs? What are people…what am I passionate about? What will I stand for? What would I sit for? And I look at the world from that space. In that, comes what I write. I’m very self reflective. For me, reflection is like playing with a Rubik’s cube. I twist and turn all the scenarios from every point of view and when I hit on something interesting, it’s that that I write.

For blog posts, I write and edit as I go, but for this pre-writing thing, I just write, with pen and paper, in the margins, above the margins, and try not to edit myself too much, because it’s all usable, even if it doesn’t get into the story at the end.

I also write every day. That’s not true. I try to write every day. Realistically, there are days that I can’t. But when I get to write, whether it’s an email, blog post, or journal, I don’t begrudge that writing, my best turn of phrase for the moment, because it’s all practice, and I’ll take what I can get.

@fillpraycloset #catholic #writer

Tagging Colleen M. Duggan – because I *know* she’s a wealth of information and I’m just selfish and want in on that brain! For example, there’s a #7QT post she wrote on books. I saved the picture of the books she recommended and have each one in my cart to checkout on payday! Yep – she’s a girl/writer crush of mine.

I am also tagging Katie Cross. She recently shared why she indie published and it makes me think that would be my route too! The heart, spirit and writing of this chic is only eclipsed by her sense of humor and curly hair. And, again, I want in on that writer brain.

And just so you know who was tagged with me? None other than my other girl/writer crush, Rhonda from The Naptime Novelist. It’s not up yet, but when it is? All over that like white on rice.

If you’re interested in the podcast I mentioned in this post, here’s the transcript, but I highly recommend subscribing and listening to all of them, as you clean. They are very funny, and regardless of their intro, they are, quite smart.


12 thoughts on “My Pre-Writing Writing Process

  1. For the record, there’s totally room for you in my hair.

    Second of all, I’m super honored that you would think of me! Seriously. So awesome.

    Your line “Writing is how my mind sings,” almost made me cry. How else can it be described? Sometimes when I listen to a really good violinist (like Lindsay Stirling, for example), I think, ‘I wish I could write that song.’ And it’s hard to describe, but I feel like you did describe it with that line, and now I’m teary eyed because someone understands.



    1. And this is why you ballroom danced, or as I prefer “Running Manned” it into my little bloggy world. Because kindred spirits – thanks Ericka Clay, wherever you are 🙂 probably glittering cats and eating gluten-free cupcakes. She’s SO fit. I digress. No I don’t, I eat gluten-full cupcakes. 🙂


  2. Like white on rice made me LOL. But writing making your heart sing, yeah, that about sums up a romantic writer. I used to pray to St. Francis de Sales till I found out Chesterton was up for a nomination for canonization, then I tried praying to him. Thanks for answering the interview, and tagging so many more writers. I was hoping you’d tag your new friend KM Weiland 😉


  3. When I was writing Finding Grace, I was afraid to mention the “N word” to anyone, too. The only people who knew I was writing a novel were my husband and my boys–and then our oldest son got married when I was about halfway finished (to a book-loving librarian!), and I let her in on my secret as well. I didn’t even tell my parents or siblings. I was afraid if I let the cat out of the bag, I’d never finish and then I’d feel silly or something.

    I’m so excited to hear that you’re writing one of those N’s. I can’t wait to read it! 🙂


  4. You write because people need to read your writings. So they can be uplifted, inspired, feel the feels they need to feel, be reminded of God. You write because you do it so well. Your posts are never boring! Not even when you talk about our Saints which made me so sleepy way back in religious studies in high school! And cleaning? Best therapy for me. It shakes the cobwebs off my brain. And I get mad at the one who made a mess the most. And I write about them on the blog. Kidding. 🙂


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