Quite recently I was engaged in a conversation with a small group of authors. The topics of technique and process came up, as they often do within such circles. It was quickly apparent that there were multiple schools of thought present at the table. There were 4 varying stances, each offering insight. After this conversation, I thought I might share said insights with you all.
The first was a fantasy writer. His method was very by the book, some might say. He builds a world completely, knowing every detail before putting word one to paper. He strictly outlines everything before beginning a story. He never forces a daily writing goal, and in fact may go weeks without writing a word if ideas are still developing.
The second was a horror writer. She writes her stories as they develop in her head. To paraphrase, she spoke that to know the end before she got there seemed like a spoiler, that she enjoyed experiencing the story as it grew. She refuses to outline or set a daily writing goal.
The third was a multi-genre writer who writes as the story develops, yet he only outlines when he has a main plot line forming. He writes his stories as they progress, with a general idea of where it is going. He enforces a strict daily word goal of 1000 words per day.
Myself, I tend to fall more into the third category. I write as the story appears, and I do outline, but only once there is enough development. I know the beginning and the end, and I know major points along the way, but my theory is this: If a story is told through the eyes of a character, should not the descriptions of the world be told as they would view it? Certainly I know every detail of this world, but it creates itself as it goes. Perhaps one character would notice different things about a room than another, hence my style of writing.
I don’t mind admitting the conversation became a bit heated over the right or wrong way to write. We could each see the value of the others’ styles, but we each felt uncomfortable trying them. This brought me to a new thought, is there such a thing as the wrong way of writing? Certainly each writer has their own unique process. For example, some may have a ritualized process before beginning to write, while others may simple start scribbling the moment an idea comes. After much debate and consideration the general consensus was that there is no ‘wrong way’ so long as it works for the author in question. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and as the creator is it our role to decide how best to deliver the story we see. If your method doesn’t seem to be working for you, or if you have any questions about what you might do differently, I highly suggest talking to other authors. Most are incredibly happy to discuss their processes. Each will be slightly different. We know that we cannot create within a vacuum, so when you hit that wall, look for alternate methods of reaching your goals. Never be afraid to experiment or ask for help. One joy of being a writer is the freedom to work in the manner that best suits you, another is the ability to take inspiration from everything you see. My advice? Never become so bogged down with how you’re writing to forget to love what you’re writing. It seems simple enough, but is surprisingly easy to fall into. Do not forget why you started writing in the first place. Remember that, and you will always succeed.