Do you have a writing process which works for you — no matter what?
Last week I received a message from a writer we’ll call Sophie. She was ready to quit writing, because she found it too difficult.
Sophie became a full-time writer at the start of 2018. She’d had some success with a couple of novels she published on Amazon, and was writing web content for several clients. Since she was making more from her writing than she made at her day job, she was ready for the freelance life.
Unfortunately a bunch of challenges hit Sophie, and she was ready to quit writing. Several of her clients hadn’t paid on time, and her novels’ sales had slowed. She was blocked on her current novel, and couldn’t force herself to write.
You need a writing process that works, even when the words won’t come
I asked Sophie about her writing process. “Process?” she said. “I just write.”
Sophie needs a process, because everyone has days when the words won’t come. Some writers have years when the words won’t come, sadly.
Sophie’s a new writer, so over time, she’ll develop her own process. I shared some strategies from Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money which helped her to get over her block quickly.
Your writing process offers strategies to help you to combat challenges
Writers write. That’s what we do — we write, even when the words flow like molasses, or when:
- We’ve written ourselves into a corner on a novel;
- Our latest novel doesn’t sell;
- A client tells us that he’s not ready to proceed with a project (after we cancelled two other projects to work on his);
- Our computer breaks;
- We’ve no idea where this month’s mortgage is coming from…
Sophie’s process: make mud, and use lists
I suggested two strategies for Sophie from Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money.
Here they are.
1. Make mud: generate text generously
We can put immense pressure on ourselves when we write.
This is always a mistake. Just write. Look on all the writing you do as “making mud”. Be exuberant and messy.
You can do a lot with your mud. Just as you can build entire houses with mud bricks, you can write articles, novels, nonfiction books, short stories, essays, memoirs – in short, you can write anything and everything, if you make the basic building material, the “mud” first.
I love the word MUD. It reminds me of playing in mud puddles and making mud pies, getting all dirty and messy in the process.
Writing’s a messy business: be prepared for chaos when you’re starting a piece of writing, and often, chaos all the way through. Just keep writing, keep making mud. When you consider all your writing as mud, you will write a lot.
When you’ve created the mud, you can set your mud in moulds. Then you can let the mud bricks dry in the sun. Then you can build something out of the mud bricks when they’ve dried.
When you look on your initial drafts of any piece of writing as mud, you can’t be precious about it. There’s nothing special about mud.
So in all your writing, get messy. Make mud – and you’ll find that you automatically write more.
2. Use index cards to structure your work
Many writers use index cards to create a structure in their work.
Let’s say you’re writing a novel. You’ve written the setup (the situation at the start of the novel): someone was murdered, a woman in a happy marriage discovered her husband was unfaithful, or whatever.
You want to create scenes which will take you through the book. Just get a packet of index cards. Whenever you get an idea for a character or an event, write it on an index card. Limit yourself to one incident or character per card.
Carry your cards around for a few days or even weeks. When you’ve got 50 cards, sort them out. You should have more than enough events for a plot.
You can use index cards to structure any piece of writing. I use them to structure ebooks and reports, as well as any articles which are longer than 1500 words.
I always have a stack of 3×5 cards on the corner of my desk. I carry them around in my bag in a pocket briefcase. When I go for a walk, I slip a couple of index cards into my pocket.
If you enjoy the freedom index cards give you, you can even create your own “Hipster PDA” – this is just a stack of cards, secured with a clip, which you carry around and use as a Personal Information Manager.
Develop your own writing process: you can do it
Have fun. 🙂
What's holding you back from the writing career of your dreams? If you want to write more, sell more, and have more fun writing... it's easier than you can imagine. Discover the secret to writing every day, and becoming a prolific writer.More info →
If you've ever dreaded writing, or felt that writing was too hard, you'll love the Easy-Write Process.
The Easy-Write Process changed my life; I developed it over several years of struggling with writing. When I taught the Easy-Write process to my writing students, they achieved great results too. Please enjoy the Easy-Write Process -- I wish you much success with it.More info →
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