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The Compulsive Reader: Guest Blog: Beck McDowell's Writing Process

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest Blog: Beck McDowell's Writing Process

Beck McDowell is the author of the recently released novel This Is Not a Drill. It's about what happens when two high school seniors who recently broke up find themselves the only adults in a classroom of first graders with a gunman who takes them all hostage.

Beck was kind enough to stop by and share some information and advice about her writing process!



The Writing Life of Beck McDowell 

Place: Inside – desk, bed, couch, cushy chair in home office, all over the place

Outside – porch swing, coffee shops, at the beach, at the lake

(Can you tell I hate routine? Probably from being tied to a classroom and bell schedule all those years – can you relate?)

Computer: MacBook Pro – no special program, just Word

Attire: often pj’s or sweats but if I come in from a wedding or social event and the mood strikes, I might write in a skirt and pearls.

Schedule: anywhere from 2 – 15 hours in a day, depending on how it’s rolling; I do take a month or so off between books

Time Frame: usually finish first draft in 8-10 months with 2-3 months to self-edit before submission (then months of edits with editor, of course)

Publisher: Penguin. My editor, Nancy Paulsen, is a.maz.ing to work with. It’s intimidating to join ranks of her authors - like Jacqueline Woodson and Tommy DePaola – and in the past Roald Dahl and Mildred Taylor. That bar is set really high so I work hard to try to measure up.

Beta Readers: I’m lucky to have a great group of “first readers” comprised of family, close friends, and writer buddies. They are essential to the process!

Writing quirks: I don’t always write chronologically. I think in scenes and they don’t always come to me sequentially.

Job Perks: Being my own boss (sorta) and choosing when and how I work. Also meeting lovely people and learning cool stuff while researching,

Job Hazards: Anxiety over whether the words will come. Every day’s a new day, worrying I’ve forgotten how to ride the bike.

Distractions: That siren we call the internet. SO, SO hard not to look at FB, Twitter, Pinterest, e-mail, etc., especially when the words aren’t flowing.

Motto: Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keys

Breaks: ten minutes every hour or two to clear my head


Thanks for sharing, Beck!

Be sure to check out This Is Not a Drill, out now!

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