When you’re a new writer, you soak up advice like a thirsty sponge.
On the one hand, you have a dream, a vision. Perhaps it’s to write a bestseller. A memoir. To write from the heart for your eyes only.
On the other hand, you have questions.
Where do I start? How do I start? How often should I write? How long should I write for?
Should I outline or let my story evolve? Should I draft or should I “slow-cook” my work? What should I write about? What should I leave out?
For every question about the writing process I have listed, there are so many more. And for every question, there are several answers.
I’ve been working on my novel, Wherever You Go, for a year now. I’m three-quarters through. Maybe a bit more. And I have learnt so much along the way. Here’s what I’ve learnt about my writing process:
- I don’t write fast, throwing words into a pressure cooker that will eventually yield something special. I “slow-cook” my words. Some parts of my novel I write slowly, lingering over the scenes as though I’m part of them. This happens especially with scenes involving a lot of description (ie the feasts my characters have) or intense emotion. I want to get them right before I move on.
- But sometimes I “draft”. I write a few scenes in fragmented sentences, because I have an idea and I need to run with it. I fill in the gaps later.
- Therefore, I don’t have a consistent “style”. I work with how I feel on the day, and different scenes call for different methods. For me.
- I listen to music when I write. Sometimes. When I’m writing the aforementioned food scenes, which feature food from different countries, I listen to music from the specific country. When the family is home and they’re being noisy, I pop on the headphones.
- Sometimes I don’t want to listen to music. I just want quiet. This works best at 6am!
- I can be disciplined for a while, but I do lapse regularly. I’m juggling a few writing projects (some work-related) so it happens.
- I don’t outline. I let my story evolve. It works for me. Maybe I’ll try outlining another time.
- I don’t like “on the spot” writing. I’m too much of a perfectionist. My problem, I know. I’m working on it!
My point is that I’ve had to find the best way for ME. It’s a bit of trial and error. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to writing. What works for me, what works for my friends … none of this, or some of this, may work for you.
The main thing is to write. Find your way. It’s part of the journey. It’s YOUR journey.
PS. This week’s pictures were taken at Araluen Botanic Gardens. I love them because they could be paintings, especially the second, which has a decidedly Monet-feel.
I’m one of 24 authors featured in Serenity Press’s upcoming Writing the Dream anthology (available for pre-order here). If you are a writer or want to be one, please think about buying this gorgeous book. It’s all about each contributors’ writing journey – all are different, even though they have the same dream.