One of the most important things you can do as a writer is learn to trust your process.
After all, no matter how many writer friends you have, or how many groups you belong to, writing is basically a solitary activity.
Sure, you can have company while you write, or you can consult on ideas or plot holes, but sooner or later it is going to be just you and the page.
There are hundreds of people out there advising you about writing but the truth is that only YOU know how you write best.
You might have to take some time to observe your patterns but the information is in there somewhere.
And the sooner you can learn to trust your process, the easier it will be to write.
Advice is a buffet – choose your favourite stuff
It’s fun and interesting to look at all these different types of writing guides and see if there’s any information that’s useful for you. But please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that someone else’s guideline is the only way to get it done.
Consider their writing advice like a buffet. You don’t need to eat everything, you don’t even need to try everything. Just pick the things that are appealing for you or that serve your purposes and leave the rest.
And, by the way, anyone who tells you that their way to write is the ONLY way to do it doesn’t know very much about writing. They don’t realize that their trusted process is just one of many.
Your process is your own business
Here’s one of my favourite quotes* about writing and it gets to the heart of what I am saying here:
“The only way to write is well, and how you do it is your own business.” – A.J. Liebling
I know that brings up the whole question of what writing “well” might mean but that’s not the relevant part at this stage.
Right now, we’re making sure that you can do the writing you want to do. That means finding a system that works for you. And, to paraphrase Liebling, the way that you get words on paper is your own business.
You can write it all on a chalkboard. Or do voice dictation while hanging upside down in a tree. You can write it in chocolate pudding.
It literally doesn’t matter. Whatever you want or need to do to get your words on paper is a good way to get started.
Obviously, you don’t want to create extra work or obstacles for yourself by having too much of an elaborate ritual. And I don’t want you to do anything that is unkind to yourself (nothing painful, nothing mean, please!) But, otherwise, do the thing that you need to do.
Enjoy the experiment
As you get more practice with your writing you’ll realize that certain approaches are more effective or more efficient for you but that all comes down to your own experimentation.
Other people’s approaches are valuable as experiments but don’t let them dictate how you get your work done.
There’s no wrong way to write.
Anything that gets your words on paper at whatever speed you are comfortable putting them there is a good approach.
Please be kind to yourself about the process.
*I’ve slightly modified this to remove a word that doesn’t match this site’s policies. The original is here. https://quotefancy.com/quote/1297253/A-J-Liebling-The-only-way-to-write-is-well-and-how-you-do-it-is-your-own-damn-business
Christine Hennebury’s storytelling career began when she was four and her parents didn’t believe her tale about water shooting out of her nose onto the couch – they insisted that she had spilled bubble solution from the empty jar in her hand. Luckily, her skills have improved since then. Christine makes up stories, shares stories, and coaches other people who are working on stories, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Find out more about her at christinehennebury.com