[Writing] Do you?

I have just started reading Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and in the opening chapter she provides a nugget of insight that new writers (as though I am not one) need drilled into them before they waste as much time I did trying to copy someone else’s process before realizing each writer has to create their own:

The mundane daily habits of writers are apparently fascinating. No author offers to answer questions at the end of a public reading without being asked: Do you write in the morning or at night? Do you write every day? Do you compose longhand or on a computer? Sometimes such questions show a reverent interest in the workings of genius. More often, I think, they are a plea for practical help: Is there something I can do to make this job less horrific? Is there a trick that will unlock my words?

Burroway goes on to list seven different authors with seven different writing processes.

So, here’s my advice, as one who’s taken far too long to ramp up to the actual process of writing fiction: Stop spending your time Googling to try to figure out what your favorite writers do to create their works of fiction. Instead, spend that time coming up with your own process. For every hour you spend looking to see if someone writes their drafts longhand, that’s an hour you could have been writing longhand to see if that works for you. So – again, from someone who’s spent far too long asking questions – stop trying to find others’ answers to your questions, and start making your own answers.


2 thoughts on “[Writing] Do you?

  1. Elaine Saunders

    Here, here. There’s no substitute for actually sitting down and getting on with it, preferably for a set period every day. The only way to write easily and prolifically is to practise, practise, practise.

    We tend to forget that Dickens, the Brontes and Shakespeare managed perfectly well without the Internet and created classic works of fiction with only a pen and paper.

    Also, don’t confuse writing with typing. In any dead time during the day – doing mundane chores around the house, sitting in traffic, waiting in a queue – devote your mind to thinking about the characters or scene you’re working on. This is as much “writing” as sitting down at the keyboard. When you do eventually have time at your desk, you’ll hopefully just need to type up those day’s thoughts and you’re away.

    Elaine Saunders
    Author – Fiction Writing Exercises

  2. Pingback: Fanatical Pupil » [Writing] In which another person says first drafts aren’t final drafts

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