This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
One thing I say a lot in these columns is that every writer is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Each rule we’ve looked at has turned out to be more of a guideline, which may (or may not) be useful to you while you’re working on your craft.
The same thing goes for the process of getting your words down on paper (or, if you prefer, up on screen).
Some writers write every single day, building momentum and getting their word count incrementally. Others don’t write for days, weeks or months and then ‘binge write’ in blocks of focused creativity.
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Let’s not forget, too, the often-cited categories of ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers’. Those who plan out the entire story and those who ‘write by the seat of their pants’ or, to put it another way, ‘wing it’.The point is, there are as many different ways of writing a novel as there are writers, but what will really make your writing life easier, more productive and more enjoyable, is if you can trust yourself.
Once you've found the process that works for you (for 'works' read 'gets words written and books finished'), trust it. Don't compare yourself to others (no matter how successful they appear) and decide that you're doing it wrong if you don't follow their methods.
Perhaps you do a lot of reading and research throughout the process of writing a book, but then you read an interview with a novelist who says they don't read at all while they're writing. On a low day, it's easy to translate that into a feeling of failure and insecurity. What if they know something you don't? What if they're right?
The answer, of course, is that they're absolutely right. For themselves.
Stay light on your feet, too, and trust your instincts when a process that has served you well in the past is no longer working.
Writing is part of life and life changes. Maybe when your children were very small you set the alarm and got up early to write before the day began. Now, they go to bed much later (oh, how I miss the seven o'clock bedtime!) and when your alarm goes off at five in the morning, you feel weepy instead of inspired. Shifting your writing time does not mean you are going to 'break the magic' or that you aren't committed.
Perhaps you have always made detailed plot outlines, but the idea you're working on at the moment just isn't forming in that way and you're desperate to dive in and write some scenes. Go ahead. You've got nothing to lose, after all.
Trying out new tips and tricks to hone your process and keep your writing productivity at optimum levels is fine – desirable, in fact, but don't worry if those new tricks don't suit you. And, for goodness sake, don't feel inferior.
The thing with books is this: Once they're finished, nobody can tell how they got that way.