Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Survival Tip #2 - One Size Does Not Fit All

I've said it before in varying posts over the years, but I think it's something that needs to be said again. 

There is no right way to write.

Over the past eight+ years, I've heard a lot of advice on how to write.  Be a Plotter.  Be a Pantser.  Write early.  Write late.  Write every day.  Write when the muse strikes you.  Dress like you're going to a job so you get in the work mindset before you start to work.  Wear something that makes you comfortable when you work so you're not feeling constricted.


And the people giving this advice make it sound like it's set in stone.  (Or at least that's how a fledgling writer can take it when their back's against the wall and they're looking for a way to make this writing thing work.)

There is no right way to write. What works for one person might not work for the next.  And what works for Stephen King or Nora Roberts or Stephanie Meyer (not that any of them are saying their way is the right way) might not work for you.

Now that's not to say that you shouldn't experiment with ways to write - at least until you find the one that works for you.  Nope.  I'm all about trying new things.  I've also discovered the courage to dump advice when it doesn't work for me.  That whole plotting thing?  Doesn't work for me.  And I found out the hard way. 

Years ago, when I was struggling with the tidal wave of rejections from my first book, I decided to hunt down advice on how to write so that I could get published.  One such piece said that books NEED to be plotted out or they don't work.  So I plotted my second book.  And for me, plotting took the fun right out of it.  I knew what was going to happen and therefore I didn't feel any urgency for actually getting the book written.  Been there done that, not interested in going there again. 

And it's a pretty flat book for the most part.

But that's me.

Plotting is not my process.  And process, like most of the garments marked thus, is a 'one size does not fit all' thing.

So take the advice you read and hear - both out there in the blogosphere and in books and magazines on the subject - and decide what works for you.  And if none of it works for you, it's perfectly acceptable to make up your own rules*.  Whatever gets you to THE END with a good, well-written story that you're proud of.

What's some 'one size fits all' advice you found didn't work for you?

* the exception here is the rules of good English.  Learn those well.  Once you have the grammar and spelling rules down, you'll know which ones you can break to make your work better.  ;o)


  1. Yep - that 'plot' advice didn't work for me, either! Reading writing advice (and craft books) scares away my muse because I start to doubt and compare and then I just don't write!

    Great post :)

  2. I'm the same way, Janet. No wonder we get along so well. ;o)

  3. I can't "write every day". I need some downtime or my brain overheats and fries.

    On the flip side I can't write WITHOUT plotting first.

  4. Which proves the point that we all have different processes, JB. I'm so glad your process works for you or we wouldn't have all your awesome books. =o)

  5. I'm the same way-- I can't plot out the whole story. I will loosely plot out the main points of my story, but I'm okay with them changing. I also can't write every single day. I think it is a good idea for a lot of people, but as JB said, my brain also overheats. Or I become too obsessed and I block out all of my other responsibilities--I can't do that ;)

  6. Exactly, Nat. Everyone hits this in their own way. I'm glad you're finding what works for you.


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