What’s Your Writing Process? The Blog Tour

I’ve been invited to share about my writing process. Thanks to LeAnn Campbell, a fellow OakTara author, for including me in this relay blog tour. Check out LeAnn’s writing process, or one of her children’s mystery novels at OakTara.

Here’s a snapshot of my writing desk:

My Writing Desk

My Writing Desk

It’s got all the essentials–my writing notebook, marketing plan, brainstorming timer, random post-its, Jane Austen the action figure, the writer’s prayer, and my scene notecards.

Time to answer a few questions about my writing process.

What am I working on?

While trying to build a marketing plan from the ground up, I’m currently working on my new novel, Crossing Nexis, the sequel to my debut The Nexis Secret. Nexis will be a four-book series, but for some reason the sequel was the hardest to wrap my brain around. So many sequels miss the mark, disappoint readers, or are just plain bad. Yikes! That’s a lot of pressure for a writer, especially with books like Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) to set the bar super high.

Lucky for me, I have great friends who are willing to slog through beaucoup details to help me develop my story. My psych-major friend helped me make my bad guy more lovable, maybe even an option for my heroine. The love triangle will rev up and not because the hero breaks up with the heroine. I’ve had to make some hard choices in plotting my sequel, but trust me–the book is much better.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Tricky question, because there’s not a lot of Christian YA angel books. The main differences about The Nexis Secret are the concepts, Bible conspiracy and the idea of the Seer, aka one girl who sees the unseen world of angels.

I tried to be relevant to the current market, so this book could crossover onto mainstream shelves. That’s where the differences are clearer, angels in my book don’t fall in love with humans. Though there is an element of Bible conspiracy, I keep the angel parts true to the Bible to show the difference between light and dark. The Nexis Secret is meant to be a clean read and an option for current readers of popular YA literature.

Why do I write what I do?

I discovered the power of words at a very young age. That’s why I want to foster that love of reading in teens, a time when I needed direction the most. I write for teens who want an alternative to the stuff they deal with everyday at school, and who are curious about God. Fiction is a great avenue to explore questions about religion, which is another reason I keep it clean. Sometimes I feel like I never grew up, which only fuels my passion for writing for young adults.

How does my writing process work?

Someone asked me this recently and I couldn’t give them an answer. After mulling it over, I discovered my writing process is very organic in the idea stage, but much more thought-out in its execution.

In the idea stage I literally gather ideas in my mind and hold them there until a solid idea forms. I write down tons of trigger phrases on post-its, but I don’t use them much. I just wait for the idea to solidify, until that last piece falls into place. That’s when the Eureka! moment hits and the idea comes out fully-formed.

Once the idea is fully realized the execution starts with scenes. I write scene ideas on note cards to get an idea of the progression and start working in Scrivener. If I get stuck I brainstorm for 5-10 minutes, usually on the emotion I want to convey. I’ve started emotion brainstorming at the beginning of each writing session, a technique I used for my writing lunch breaks when I worked in corporate America. It helps you focus so much faster.

Obviously there’s more to it, but that’s just how I get started. My first drafts are kind of like skeletons, depicting the bare action and dialog just so I know where everything goes. It usually takes me a second draft to fill in all the gorgeous details like setting, emotion, and imagery. Not to say things aren’t mixed and matched along the way, but I try not to edit myself too much until the third and fourth drafts. Once I turn my editor brain on I’m a stickler for details. It crushes the creative process, but somehow hones my word choice to make me seem more creative. Such a wonderful dichotomy. 🙂

I’ve found a few writing books to be the most helpful, which I’ll list at the end of the post. I’ve mostly taken bits and pieces to create my own process, which is what most writers I’ve met do. That’s why I try to learn as much as I can from books, writing seminars, and other writers. You never know what awesome tip you’ll pick up that will totally enhance your entire process. That’s why I love getting together with other writers.

Passing the Baton

Now it’s time to pass the baton to my writing friend, Holly Michael, author of an upcoming devotional book with her NFL son Jake Byrne, recent ACFW Genesis Semi-Finalist in the contemporary fiction category, and blogger at Writing Straight.

Check out more writers’ stories with the #MyWritingProcess Twitter hashtag.


My Favorite Writing books:

–Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques That Ensure a Great First Draft
by Laura Whitcomb

  • Great tips for writing better drafts faster

–Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

  • Really hones your plot ideas to the bare essentials, then helps you flesh them out to create more tension

–Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin

  • Illustrates how to develop not only romance, but fully-formed characters, and points of view. A surprisingly great resource

Also Helpful:

–Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

–Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain

Did you like this post?

Share, like, or leave me a comment about your own writing process.
I’d love to hear from you.



  1. Hi Barbara!
    It’s comforting to hear that other writers fill in the details of “setting, emotion, and imagery,” in their second drafts! I was just reading through my manuscript and I realized my first few chapters have a good amount of setting, but my later chapters have next to none and fall flat! Looking forward to bulking it up in it’s next draft, and glad to hear I’m not the only one! Thanks for your insight 🙂


  2. That’s a really good idea. Mental Note Taken!
    Do you consider yourself more of an “island” writer or do you write things consecutively? I was reading your style, and I think it’s similar to how I write. I’ll get an inspiration for a scene and then write it out, but you take notes (which is a creative way to build a scene)! 🙂


  3. i liked your process post – i think we could use some more Christian ya! i have one i’d like to develop, but there are other things that have to be done first – it’s a tough market and i’d want to make a bigger impact, so i feel once i’m more established, it might be more widely received… and love that moment when you know you have a golden idea and it comes together enough to get started!

    happy hump day!


    • I couldn’t agree more about Christian YA! It’s a very niche market to break into, that’s one reason I went with your namesake publisher. 🙂 They wanted to market my angel book to Christian and mainstream markets. Excited for that! But I think you’ve got the right idea, if you can get established in a bigger market first, I say go for it!


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