Reprinted with permission from the July 8, 2019 Facebook post by Kirsten Osbourne. Kirsten Osbourne is the USA Today bestselling author of over 170 contemporary and historical romance novels.
So people are asking about my process. I don’t think it’s anything different than anyone else does, but I’ll share.
I am mostly a pantser. With a longer book I’m a plotter. I divide the length of book I want into five days. If it’s a 30k novella (and lots of mine are) I write 6k words per day. I tend to write 10 chapter books, so that’s two chapters of 3k words per day.
Before I start writing, I know the name of my two main characters and what each does, time period, and location. I write in multiple genres within romance, but I always start with this basic information. The characters tell me what to do after that. If I’m writing a longer book (say 50k) I jot down a list of scenes that need to take place before I start. I go for about 30 scenes in a 50k novel, but often, I jump script.
Either way, I either sprint with others, or write a chapter and watch one show of whatever my family is currently binge watching. My son is homeschooled, and my husband has been a stay at home dad for about six and a half years. We’re all on top of each other all the time. If we have time to bingewatch in between sprints, that works best to keep me motivated right now. Sometimes sprints motivate me. Sometimes just a chunk of 1k words at a time motivates me. I find what works that day, and I run with it.
I can do a thousand words in about twenty minutes, so it takes about three hours for 6k words if I’m really on. I always take a break after about twenty minutes. I’m a twenty minutes on, ten minutes off kind of girl. I have some back injuries, so I write in a recliner with my laptop on a table in front of me, and a separate keyboard on my lap. It’s the least pain way to write. I also make sure I walk every twenty minutes (at least to the bathroom or to get more water, etc) It keeps me from stiffening up too much.
I type everything, which means carpal tunnel. To combat the pain, I use paraffin wax. I keep it on at all times, so it’s ready for me to shove my hands in there. The warmth really makes a difference. I also see a chiropractor who adjusts my hands every week. When they are particularly bad, he will also scrape them with a tool that feels like death, and laser them.
Okay, back to how I do it. I write that 6k on Monday usually. Then Tuesday I get up and edit the 6k I wrote Monday and I write 6k for Tuesday. It goes that way all week. By Saturday I have a finished 30k novella. I do the edits Saturday, send to my proofreader. (I don’t like editors because they want to change my voice, but obviously my fans love my voice.) Proofreader takes 2-3 days. By the time I get that book back from her, I’m already halfway through the next, because I started a new one on Monday. I go through her edits and pay her as soon as I get the edit back, and then I send to beta readers. I usually use six betas. They catch any errors my proofreader missed. Then I send to my assistant (Hey, Sara Benedict!) who does the formatting for me. I write a blurb and upload.
I make sure I publish at LEAST once every three weeks, but I’ve been involved in multiauthor projects, and they skew things. I’ll have three books this month and at least three next. I guess that’s pretty normal for me, but the spacing gets weird.
I will add that I can’t always do Monday through Friday. I live in a rural area and we drive FAR to see specialty doctors. I have one I see every three weeks an hour and a half away. My husband has one I have to go with him to three hours away, and that was every week a year ago, but we’re down to every three months on that. If it’s a big travel day, I simply move one of my writing days to Saturday. This week we have two appointments like that, so I will be writing all weekend. That doesn’t bother me. I just know if I’m in the car that long, I can’t write new words. I’m fried. I will EDIT words on those days, but not write.
I’ve been a full-time writer for about eight years now. All of the things I do have been tweaked and changed. I can write a 30k novella in a weekend if I have to. I won’t be happy, and my hands will hate me, but I CAN do it. My biggest day ever was 20006 words. I can do 10k easily. I did 10k yesterday and the day before, so I can finish this particular novel before we have two days of travel for appointments. Everything has to be adjustable. Life happens.
I look at deadlines as firm. If I have a book that needs to be done on the fifteenth, I’m likely to start it the fifteenth of the previous month, even thought I know it will only take a week. Life happens. We have to adjust for life. My husband died twice last summer, and I have to be on call to help him out when he needs it. He’s just getting his strength back, and he can’t do all the things he should. So I’m pretty much at his beck and call. There’s always a bit of brain damage when someone dies and comes back, so he will forget how to cook something in the middle of the meal. I’m often up until four in the morning finishing words I couldn’t get done otherwise. Life happens. It’s my job to adjust to it while still meeting my deadlines. Burnout is in my schedule for every fourth week and I get to sit around staring at walls. It really works for me to know I will have a week every month off.
There. My system. Questions? I’m good at making up answers.