I spend a lot of time on Twitter. Sometimes I’m passively half-paying attention to my feed, sometimes I’m really watching. But the point is that I see writers saying a lot of things, given most of my feed are writers at varying stages of their development. One of the most common themes I see is what I might call “Am I doing this right?”
You see the same sorts of questions pop up in most social media where writers congregate. Or at least I have. Of course, sometimes I’ve been the one asking them too.
“Is this long enough?”
“How long did it take you to write?”
“How much/often should I write?”
“How many drafts should I do?”
The list could go on, but you get the sort of question I’m talking about. They are, by and large, about seeking reassurance that we aren’t messing up this thing that’s so incredibly important to us. It doesn’t help that there are a million books and websites all trying to tell you how to do this and each of them says something a little different. What’s a writer to do when trying to find out how to be successful at this?
Well, we often look at people we know, people we look up to especially. We see what they’re doing and compare it to our own progress and methods. There’s an inherent flaw in this though. Are you ready for it?
There’s no one right way
Got that? Write it on a piece of paper, stick it somewhere you’ll see it every day. There are just about as many right ways to do writing as there are people doing it. How long it takes to write a draft will vary from person to person, as will how they do it. And it’s bigger than the plotter/panster debate. It’s about everything, from how many words you write in a day, to how often you do it. What sort of stories you write is in there too, not to mention the “right” way to write your genre (if you even have just one). But I’ll say something else important. There’s only one way to do writing just plain wrong.
Write that one down too. The only way you can do writing entirely wrong is by not writing at all. That’s it. As long as you’re getting words down, getting that story out onto the page/screen, you’re doing it right, whatever your method and pace might be. I don’t care if you only write one sentence every day. You write once a week, a few hundred words? Thumbs up. It’ll take you a while to finish a draft that way, but it’s not wrong. You’re making forward progress on that story. That automatically makes it right.
There are a lot of personal choices to be made when you’re writing, I’ll grant you that. What genre you feel most comfortable in. The point of view you decide to write in. How many CPs/betas you have read your manuscript. The publishing path you take. But they are personal choices. You have to decide what’s right for you. What you choose can and will be different from what others pick. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, or that they are.
We’re all different and we’ll all write a different story in our own way, with our own process and decisions. The important thing is to write them. So I suggest to everyone who reads this, go forth and write the words. Write all of them that you have to write at that moment, however many that might be. Don’t worry about your writing pace, or about how your process differs from others. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. If someone else is doing this writing thing differently, don’t sweat it. Most of all, DO NOT judge either them or yourself for that. Just write. Just do your thing. You’ll get there. We all will as long as we keep putting down words.
Most of all, support each other. Encourage each other. This isn’t a race and it isn’t a competition. There’s room at the end of the journey for all of us.