Blog Hop: My Writing Process

A Cat

A cat improves any blog post…
PD image via Pixabay

Recently the most excellent Ellen Gregory tagged me for a blog hop where writers answer four questions about their creative process.  The rules require one to publish their post on a Monday and tag three people, who are supposed to publish their posts the next Monday. They tag three more people, and the blog hop spreads in the manner of one of my favorite metaphors, the zombie virus 😉

I was supposed to do my post last Monday, but I couldn’t because of assorted busyness that included a trip to visit my grandparents and eat their donuts, which were chocolate-frosted and deliciously decadent (the donuts, not the grandparents).

Since it’s Monday again, I will attempt to propagate the zombie virus help keep the blog hop going.

And now for the questions…

Drum roll, please.

1.  What am I working on?

I’m slowly revising a short story set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world I plan to use for a few simple projects.

Originally I was trying to revise a first draft of an eastern fantasy novel, but quickly learned that I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I decided it might be a good idea to amass some experience with some shorter stuff before returning to the novel.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A Dog

…unless you prefer dogs.
PD image via Pixabay

The main thing that separates my work from most others in the same genre is that it’s all connected by a set of underlying metaphysical and cosmic themes, regardless of whether the piece in question is fantasy, science fiction, horror, or leprechaun crime fiction (just how do leprechauns accumulate all that gold, anyway?).  Reading a lot of Michael Moorcock when I was growing up likely influenced this.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I find this difficult to answer for the same reason I have trouble articulating why I like the foods I eat, the music I listen to, or why I often reference zombies when I’m only a casual consumer of zombie media.  I guess, like most of us, what I write is an extension of who I am, and I write what I would most like to read.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’m still learning this, and I suspect it will turn out to be a living process that evolves throughout my writing career as I gain experience, level up, and continue to learn new things.  Even so, a practice I call “discovery writing” established itself early on as a cornerstone of my creative process, and might remain so for as long as I write.

A Cat and a Dog

What about a cat AND a dog?
PD image via Pixabay

When I turn my attention to the development of a new idea for a project, I begin writing almost immediately, and this happens alongside any brainstorming and note-collecting.  I take ideas for potential characters, backstories, and plot points, ask myself, “What might that look like?”, and experiment with those ideas in a series of exploratory scenes.

Trying to capture even crude ideas into narrative form helps me extract better ideas from my brain, and also helps me get a grip on what aspects of the worldbuilding I might need to develop in support of the emerging story.  It also helps me get words down without the stress of the blank page, because thinking of it as “discovery writing” instead of “real writing” takes the pressure off.

Most of the discovery writing is throwaway, and I’m okay with that, but some of it works out well enough to go into the first draft.

*     *     *

And now I must tag three writers to propagate the blog hop, for posting on Monday the 24th, according to the rules…

Drum roll, please.

Catherine Johnson, Kirsten of A Scenic Route, and Lara Schiffbauer.  All three are excellent humans and I always enjoy their blogs.

*     *     *

If you’re a writer, what genre(s) do you work in?  How does your writing process work?  And do you prefer regular or decaf?

11 thoughts on “Blog Hop: My Writing Process

  1. Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

    I’m still learning my writing process, but I don’t outline, or what’s called an intuitive plotter (rather than the awful term pantser). For a cozy mystery I’m working on, I’m in the initial process of researching the location. I don’t like research, so it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed. So I’ve been experimenting with a white board and Post Its, identifying two topics to research a day (the idea is from this book,, which is pretty expensive for what you get). It actually does help because after I finish my two topics — no matter how long or short they are — I feel like I got a lot done, without going, “OMG! How much more do I have to do?”

    The idea itself came from a genre workshop I took. I’m really weak in getting setting into the story, and cozy is “dripping with setting.” So I picked a place I’d visited often growing up and recently visited. Since there was a favorite bookstore there (and still there), I decided the main character just inherited it. Then there’s the crime and probably some kind of festival, and a retired actor and his wife (it is only four hours from Los Angeles). I may use the Post-Its and put down “Write Scene 1” to commit to finishing a scene. I want to shoot for research to finishing by the end of April (and that’s with the A to Z Challenge in the middle of all this).

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Yeah, I have a hard time with research too. While I love reading about various topics and learning about stuff, trying to amass useful material to use for a fiction project gets pretty overwhelming for me. I like the “two topics a day” idea you mention. I’ll definitely have to try something something like the next time I need to do research.

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  2. Kirsten

    I’ll take regular, please. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your process! I’m very much a discovery writer as well, in fact, allowing myself to come to terms with that has been instrumental in getting words out at all.
    These will be interesting questions to explore, so look for my post soon–well, next Monday to be exact! There might even be cats involved. 😉

  3. livrancourt

    I love the idea of avoiding the blank page by “discovery writing”, Mike. I make notes to myself, but don’t really get into drafting scenes till I get down to business.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      There are times when I wonder if I should develop a more carefully thought-out plan before writing anything, but I suppose we tend to approach tasks in the way that comes most natural to us. But since I like to experiment with different tools and methods, one of these days I’m probably going to try doing more outlining and pre-production before getting down to business.

  4. Catherine Johnson

    I think I might get my son to do some discovery writing so he’ll get on with his homework. That’s a fun way to start writing. Your random reference of zombies is funny. Good luck with your story. Thanks for tagging me.

  5. Karen McFarland

    I love this…”Trying to capture even crude ideas into narrative form helps me extract better ideas from my brain, and also helps me get a grip on what aspects of the world-building I might need to develop in support of the emerging story.” I couldn’t say it better Mike. How very zombiesk of you! I, on the other hand, prefer mainstream fiction and so that is what I’m in the midst of writing. Or attempting to write, although they too may be crude ideas. The best thing we can do is keep writing and make improvements in our craft. Loved the pics! I’d go for a…drumroll please… dog and cat. Have a great week! 🙂


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