What I’ve Learned About Writing

Some quick thoughts on writing

I have been overwhelmed and thus waylaid by all the how-to’s, articles, rules to be learned and used when writing. Great canon and reference, but none of it is carved in stone, especially during your first draft. Of all the articles, books, and rules, your first job is to have faith in yourself and write with whatever system and format works for you.

Writing Journal and penThe main overview of writing, when I step back and think about all the books, articles or blogs I’ve studied, is that all the rules and directives that are right, are wrong.

One author’s methods simply won’t work for the next author.

You can do any, all, or none of the below…

You don’t have to plot, write linear, edit as you go, write a first draft quickly, work from theme, work without a plot or outline, use specific software/applications, keep index cards, keep separate files for each chapter, keep a large single file, write longhand, use an iPad, write perfect grammar and spelling, keep charts and time lines, and so on.

What you should do…

What you have to do is find your rhythm; in other words, find what works for you — use whatever methods allow you to discover character, plot, word flow, pacing, theme and so on.

Reading how others write is helpful. Learning the trade, knowing proper grammar, spelling, syntax, metaphors, ‘free indirect discourse‘, for example, are useful and essential tools, but don’t let these, or someone’s ‘system‘ get in your way. Just write.

If you think best with pen and paper, or at the library, or using dedicated software, then this is your write/right way.

My advice…

What I do suggest is to write often and make backups. Know when to walk away, take breaks, stretch, exercise, socialize, give your subconscious (a.k.a. your muse) a chance to work your story along with you.

Above all, have faith in yourself. You have good valid ideas and a lot to say; the words will come.

For another author’s take on writing…

‘…When you catch a ball, your brain is carrying out thousands of mathematical calculations, tracking the speed, acceleration, direction of the projectile. An entire branch of mechanics, ballistics, is devoted to working out the stuff your mind does automatically. You’re just evolved to not need to do the sums. That’s how I write….’

[ — Thomas Heasman-Hunt.  Source: http://theserialwritist.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/the-serial-writist/ ]

or have a look at Charles Dickens’ manuscript of ‘A Christmas Carol‘, written…

‘…during a period of intense creativity in fall 1843, completing the work in a mere six weeks. He appears to have made no working notes, outline, plans, or preliminary drafts, leaving only the sixty-eight-page manuscript now in the Morgan [Library & Museum]’s collection….’

[ — source: http://www.themorgan.org/collections/works/dickens/default ]