Following Your Writing Process
If you’ve ever read a book about writing, then you’ve probably heard about famous writers’ writing processes. For instance, Maya Angelou would rent a hotel room for a few months at a time, lay out across the bed, lean on her elbow, and write for hours and hours. Henry Miller, on the other hand, wrote in the mornings. If groggy, he would write notes; if awake and moving, he would actually write (1).
Whether you write in the park, surrounded by inspiration and other people, or you write in bed with no pants on, the most important thing is that you do what works for you. It is not essential that you follow the same processes as the greats. It is important that you follow the process that works best for you. There is always the option to explore a new process to see if it works, but don’t be afraid to go back to your own process if that’s what is the best for you.
For instance, I prefer writing by hand, using a pen and college-ruled paper. I even write in cursive--which I pretty much never do in my normal writing activities because my print is so much prettier than my cursive. Don’t get me wrong, I can type out a story on my computer, but it just doesn’t flow as well. Meanwhile, with a pen and paper, the story just comes out--I just write and write and write. This is slightly unfortunate because I end up with so many papers and I have to type everything at the end, but this is the process that works best for me.
While this works for me, I have known writers who would rather type their story on their phone than write by hand. But, the important thing is that we all write in the way that works best for us.
I have in the past, while trying to find inspiration, tried channeling the great writers. Some methods have worked, but most have not. What works best for me is what I need to stick to, and so now my writing process has developed into a full process that produces great work.
One thing almost all writers, editors, publishers, and author coaches recommend is writing everyday. While I find this is not always possible, I do recommend writing as often as you can--even if it is only a quick paragraph. Over the years, I have found my writing is better and more interesting the more consistently I write. Stories flow better; characters develop more fluidly; story ideas actually get written. So though I used to be a proponent of just writing when the mood struck, I now recommend writing even if you don’t really feel like it. Even if the writing is awful, just getting it out can be helpful. After all, you can always edit bad writing. And, if you really don’t want to write your story one day, try journaling. That’s still writing, and it will keep the creativity flowing.
I hold that the most important step in your writing process is to keep your own process. If it works for you--great! If not, try again, and keep trying until you find what produces your best work. Writing is not science or math; it is truly an art. Each artist has their style, and each writer has their process.
Source: 1 Ahlin, Charlotte. 2016. “The Daily Writing Habits of 10 Famous Authors.” Accessed April 15, 2020. https://www.bustle.com/articles/194001-the-daily-writing-habits-of-10-famous-authors.