What’s up, people?! It’s that time again—time for me to start a new book (and lose my sanity). I have a pretty militaristic preparation process when I’m getting ready to dive into a new story, and today I thought I’d share my 10 steps. How much of this do you do? I’d love to know!


Step 1:
First, I sort through all my book ideas—the ones I’ve accumulated while writing other books. Then I choose my top 2-3 ideas and run them by a couple of writer friends. The top idea in their opinion and mine, wins.


Step 2:
Now that I have my idea, I write it into a blurb—the kind you read on a book jacket. I send this blurb to my agent and a couple of writer friends and get their sign-off. If they like it, I proceed to writing the first chapter.


Step 3:
When my first chapter is complete, I again shoot it to my agent and writer friends to see if they think the voice is working.


Step 4:
If the first chapter gets approved by all, I backtrack. I create a loose outline of what I think will happen in the book. I use a story structure template that I found online and fill in the pieces. This way, I know I’m not missing something crucial, like an inciting incident or black moment. I also decide on the major and minor characters, location, book title, and a word count goal during this step. Once I finish my outline, I move on to the really fun part: the dream board.


Step 5:
My dream board is where I put things like the book title, main character pics (pulled from Google images), fun stickers, etc. When it’s done, I hang this board near my desk so I can see it when I’m writing.


Step 6:
When the dream board is in place, I proceed to character profiles. Using another template I found online, I outline my main characters’ (and a few of my minor characters’) information. I give them quirky habits, favorite foods, internal and external goals, etc. At this point, I usually revisit my outline several times. For me, when the characters start growing, so does the story.


Step 7:
Now it’s time for music. With the help of my brother-in-law (the music buff), I create a playlist that I use to gather inspiration while writing. The theme of the music always matches the theme of the story.


Step 8:
With all this completed, I set deadlines. I commit to my agent when I will have a first draft to her, and I try as hard as humanly possible to hit that goal…to the day.


Step 9:
I start writing. Typically, I write 2,000 words a day, 5 days a week. Many writers think I’m crazy to self-impose such rigid schedule. But if I don’t, a million reasons pop up as to why I can’t write. So I make writing a job. I do it Monday through Friday. I do it when I want to, and I do it when I don’t.


Start 10:
I buy rich coffee and chocolate chip cookies. Then I gain 10 pounds and initiate self-loathing.


I’m currently on Step 5 for my upcoming WIP. Here’s a picture of my dream board (it’s still under construction):


So tell me, what is YOUR preparation process like? I’m dying to know! 🙂