I read a lot about the writing process in an effort to improve. But ultimately, what works for me, works for me. Most of the tips I hear seem like common sense to me, so I hesitate to share my process. I believe we all need to find our own method, but I was asked to share, so here it goes.
- I’ve always been an effective communicator. I don’t think this can be taught, only improved upon. My personality type loves to talk, loves to tell a story. I don’t need a big audience, just one listener will suffice. So it is with writing. I’m telling a story and I try not to overthink it. I seldom think of style. My voice is my voice, so far. Maybe someday I will write a story with the voice of someone completely different than me. I’m afraid I wouldn’t sustain it, so that is a goal. For now, I just tell the story.
- I take two steps forward, one step back. Many writers advocate “The Big Dump”, where you go on complete output mode, put everything into the sandbox, then get in and move that sand around afterwards. This doesn’t work for me. I tried it (thanks NaNoWriMo) but it made me anxious. My style is much more like combing long hair. I take long strokes, experience some knots or tangles, which I gently work out, then I go back and make more long strokes. I rarely trim, but if I do take out the scissors if it is completely necessary. I think of editing as using the flat iron, making it pretty. I like long loose cures, so I section it and put a little gel in. I guess each curl is a chapter. I finesse the hair. Wah-la. That’s my style.
- If I’m really stuck, I might switch to a new POV. It may not stay that way, but sometimes it does. I stumped my writer’s group recently by introducing a new voice, but I assured them, “She’s just visiting. I need her to tell the story. I’m going to switch it back.”
- Did I just mention writers groups? An absolute necessity for me. Actually, it can be counterproductive to be in the wrong group. Finding beta readers that understand my vision and will be honest with me has been the smartest thing I have done.
- I read a lot. I don’t know how non-readers want to write. I don’t understand that at all. I was an avid reader for years before I started writing. I read less, but it is still very important. I can’t imagine musicians not listening to other music. Chefs not trying other people’s food. Who the hell writes but doesn’t read? I don’t want to know them. Sorry.
- Write through the block. Boy do I have a collection of inspiring memes on this one, but the one I will quote is: “The water won’t flow, unless the faucet is turned on.” Sometimes I write garbage. Blogs. Poems. Lists about writing. Try to get something out everyday.
- Get outside, see something new, get inspired. I like to be around people. Even annoying people – sometimes especially annoying people, inspire me.
- Be around people. Spend time alone. Not sure if that is my writing style, or my personality, but both are absolute necessities for this ambivert to write.