A lot of writers talk about process. Why? Because figuring out how you write will help you write. If you’re a spontaneous fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants (…I’ve always thought that was a strange expression… ) kind of writer, there’s no use wasting time on an outline. If you’re a nighthawk, there’s no point in getting up at 5am to write.
Some of you already know your process. For those struggling to find the sweet spot – here are a few exercises:
Your story may need time to gestate. Many writers go on a reading or researching binge before sitting down to write. Erin Morgenstern author of The Night Circus has a great blog article on picking up inspiration from unlikely places.
Most of us are either morning people… or not. But do you know when you’re most creative? Try tracking hour by hour how you feel. Are you energetic at 2pm or sluggish? Most of us don’t choose when we write, but for those who do – pin-pointing which times works best will help you be more productive. You’ll also want to find out how much you should write. Can you sit for hours at a time or do you need a series of quick bursts? Do you write every day or do you need to let the material sit?
There are so many ways to begin. A concept, a character, a theme, a place… and where to start? The beginning? The end? There’s no right answer, just what works for you.
Outlining Or Not
If you’re trying to let your book speak to you but it’s not saying anything, try an outline first. Outline not working for you? Toss it. Write from instinct. Kim Doty has a lovely article on Abbot Press about writers being gardeners or architects.
What’s fun about this kind of exploration is that there’s the potential for surprise.
I use to think I could never divide my focus between two projects and that working on one thing at a time was the only way to go. And yet when I sat down to write I would inevitably surf the internet, check my email, check Facebook. After years of being frustrated at my lack of productivity, I tried working on two things at once. Turns out my writing brain is a bit ADD and focuses much better when it has multiple things to do. Now when I write I have two files open at a time.
So. How do you write?