One of the things I love most about writing is just how diverse and unique the process can be. It’s different for every one of us. Yes, of course, there are a few universal factors. Ideas, words, pages, procrastination, and self-doubt, just to name a few.
But overall, it’s an entirely individual process. What works for one writer may not work for another.
Some like to work all night, while others are more inspired in the light of day. Some like to write with a glass of wine, or coffee, or tea, or even vodka. There are those that write what they know, and those that make it up as they go along. Maybe you prefer to go out, live your life and have all kinds of amazing experiences, that you can later channel in your writing. Or, maybe you prefer to stay home in your pajamas, with a book and a pet/friend/significant other.
Then there is the great divide between those who need to plan out every single detail before they write a single word, and those who prefer to sit down and go with the flow.
Since deciding to start writing, I have gone on a few talks given by authors I admire. Every single one had a different approach to writing. Yet each time I sat there, trying to take mental notes, hoping to imitate their success.
Which is ridiculous.
Every writer is different. Every writing style is different. Every story is different. And that is the gist of this post. Diversity, variety, individual differences etc make the world a wonderful place. A wonderful place, full of wonderful, unique books. Because they are unique, and even the most derivative work is distinct in some way.
Now, that we’ve gotten the message out of the way, on to the narcissistic portion of today’s post.
My own, individual writing process consists of:
- Procrastination (of course) mostly in the form of Netflix abuse, rampant internet usage, and reading the work of others. Though I have dozens of ways to procrastinate, some of which are outlined in my previous post Livin La Vida Procrastination.
- Pajamas or gym clothes, so I can play at working out while I write.
- Wine, coffee, tea, and 2-3 litres of water. Though not all at the same time.
- SOMETHING playing in the background, because I can’t stand silence. Usually I go for something silly on Netflix, music (especially The Killers, musical soundtracks, and Evanescence), and ASMR videos from YouTube (for those who’ve never heard of it, Google is your friend, and so is the ASMRtist Gentlewhispering).
- Mixing my writing mediums. I use my laptop (before it broke), my old iPad, my phone when inspiration strikes, or one of my 30 different notebooks.
There are probably a thousand other tiny little things that I do without consciously realising that help the process along.
But, where do I fall on the planning vs. flow debate, you ask? Well I personally like to mix the two.
I like to plan out the back stories of my main characters. For my current novel I have a year to year break down of how my protagonists life has unfolded before the story begins. Though, as I have mentioned a lot of this comes to me without any thought on my part. I just know who they are, and where they’ve been. But I like to write it down anyway. For the supporting or minor characters, I can go either way. Either I plan it out completely, or I decide on their name and wait for inspiration to strike.
As for the plot, well that is very much half and half as well.
I know the general way in which I want the story to unfold. I have my current book separated into three parts, and I have a vague idea what those parts are about, with very little detail.
And, most importantly, I know exactly how my book will end. I have even written parts of the ending, because I couldn’t keep the words in and focus on anything else until I had it down.
Now many people may think that writing your ending first takes all the fun out of the process. But not me.
You see, that is where the flow comes in.
I may know exactly where my story is heading, but I have no idea how it will get there. And that, to me, is the fun part.
Because as they say, life is about the journey, not the destination.