Writing Process: The Best Way to Get a Manuscript Written

goodwitchBy the power vested in me by having an online media presence, I hereby wave my magic wand and give you permission to have whatever the fuck writing process works for you.

Stop beating yourself up because you’re not one of those people who writes every day. Stop looking so smug and superior because you are one of those people. Neither way of being indicates whether you’re a good writer or not.

Let’s face it, we’re all different, with different commitments, different lifestyles, different biorhythms, etcetera. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you have a houseful of kids? Do you live alone? Are you 17 or 71? Coffee drinker, or tea or bourbon or almond milk or wine coolers? We’re all different.

When I’m in the midst of a writing project of my own,  I think about it all the time. But I usually only write about once during the work week (for about 4 or 5 hours, if I can) and then on the weekend (and not even every weekend). That’s the amount of time I can take from my other commitments right now. Does that mean I’m not serious about my work? No. Does that mean I’ll never succeed as a writer? No. Does that mean I’m a bad writer? No. It doesn’t mean anything. Except, that’s all the time I can allot to my writing.

Find what works for you, and do that. Don’t waste your time and energy on thinking and feeling that you should be doing it differently. Make a commitment, and stick to your commitment. That’s the end of the story. Do what works for you and don’t worry about what other writers do, or how, or how much, or whatever. You’re not them. Just keep your eyes on your own goals and commitments. Stop comparing yourself to others, or to an ideal of a writer, or to what you read once about “how to write.” It doesn’t help; it doesn’t do anything. Do your life.

If you can, I also recommend trying to enjoy it. I mean, why not, right?

Ok, I’m done ranting.

Tell me, what does your writing process look like?


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27 responses to “Writing Process: The Best Way to Get a Manuscript Written

  1. Steve Kozeniewski

    Bourbon and almond milk sounds delicious.

  2. My system’s about the same as yours, Linda. I write when I can. Sometimes words flow, other times, not so much.As long as words are written, I’m good. 🙂 Write on!

  3. I stopped writing for a long time because I kept seeing authors talk about plotting and big walls covered in 3×5 card flow charts. I thought you had to do that to be an author and since I couldn’t write like that I thought I couldn’t be an author. So glad I didn’t give up forever.

    • I stopped writing poetry for 10 years because I thought it had to be smart and intellectual and hard to understand. But the poetry that I ripped from my heart and guts is SO much better than anything my brain ever wrote.

  4. Linda G.

    How can we be so arrogant as to think that we actually control the Muse, or our lives for that matter? Write on, sister.

  5. Totally agree. Nanowrimo works for some, but the daily grind puts enough pressure on me without added self -punishment. I want to enjoy writing, and not see it as a chore!

  6. This is brilliant, and I think everyone needed to hear that. Especially with writers clamoring for NaNoWriMo, I think it’s best to strike while the iron is hot and let them stop worrying about a “writing process” and just write. It’s like researching on how to do research–just do it!

  7. Smug? Moi?

    I do write daily, in dribs and drabs. I totally agree with your recommendation to enjoy it. Isn’t that really what keeps a writer going: enjoyment of creating new characters and worlds?

    And yes please, I’ll take some fairy dust from that wand of yours.

  8. After having many head conversations asking myself if I’m devoting enough time or if I should alter my routine, I decided it was best to imagine myself as a surfer. I do not aim for an olympic ride each time I go out. I seldom have as much time as I’d like to devote to writing each day. The constant is that I always enjoy the water. Whatever amount of writing time I get is valuable so I make the most of it although that might mean simply being grateful for ten minutes to revise a paragraph or jot down an idea.

  9. I like to do a little bit every day too and I look forward to it, even if I play with something for only 15 minutes before bedtime. I love it when I get a few hours in the morning in a quiet house but those are rare. I often e-mail myself throughout the day to catch those better phrases whenever they visit me.

  10. Oh my goddess! You seriously read my mind. I was just sitting here telling myself how awesome it is that I have finally come to terms with my writing process. In this moment, that means I’ve written descriptive words in my fancy schmancy cursive, then contained them by category in artsy little boxes, then drew a visual of how all those words will operate in the scene. In this case, a girl is experiencing a meltdown. I’m actually considering taking up painting now.

  11. “By the power vested in me by having an online media presence…” Haha. Love that. I couldn’t agree more with your to-each-her-own mentality. There’s so much guilt around this topic, and it can be very divisive. The ideal for me is to write every day because my writing ability is like a muscle that needs to be flexed. (And here’s a secret: Writing gets easier the more I do it.) Most of my favourite writers subscribe to the write-everyday-even-a-little-bit approach as well, including Patrick De Witt (The Sisters Brothers). It’s hard as hell to fit in to my life, but I’m so much happier (and better) for making the effort.

  12. My writing and general work processes look like the bad habits of a young child with ADD. I get interrupted a lot, by others and by myself, but I get things done – stories written, timely critiques, freshly baked bread, etc. Glinda is…uh, you are…right: whatever works best for the individual is the way to do it!