How To Write: You Do You!
The Many Writing Proverbs
There’s a caveat that goes with pretty much all writing advice about what you SHOULD do, and it goes like this: “unless that doesn’t work for you.”
It seems to go hand-in-hand with the advice about what you SHOULDN’T do’s caveat, which is “if you do it well enough, you can break all the rules.”
‘Cause, remember, all the people giving this advice swear by the adage, “if you know how to write a book, you know how to write that one book.”
I can spout off writing proverbs and rules all day:
- Write every day – unless that doesn’t work for you.
- Avoid adverbs, use stronger verbs instead – unless you can make it work
- Passive voice must be avoided at ALL COSTS- unless you can make it work
So, I’ve been spouting all this advice. How about I tell you how I’m actually doing?
My Nano Status
So far, this NaNoWriMo, I’m keeping up with my words. Getting over the daily target, sometimes by the skin of my teeth, never really getting ahead. The steady, forward progress works for me. I’ve got that 1-2 hours a day to devote (or carve out) for it, and I make it work.
What If You Can’t Find The Time?
“Write Every Day” – writing proverb
Many of you can’t find that sort of time regularly. Instead, you carve out larger chunks once or twice a week and slug your way through thousands of words in a go.
I’ve written over 3,000 words in a day maybe 3 times ever? That’s not how I work. But if you can make it work–more power to you!
Some of you can only find 10-15 minute blocks, on your lunch break, on your commute, whenever you can squeeze in some words. I’ve done that here and there, but I know how hard it is to keep it coherent and track your line of thinking. I’m impressed by you!
What If You Can’t Write Enough Words?
“Write until you hit your word count target” – writing ‘proverb’
(Okay, that one might just be an adage of NaNoWriMo, not actually a writing proverb.)
Many of you can’t write fast enough or find the right words, and the monthly word target is slowly slipping further and further from your stalled out word count. Research is distracting you. Or the next plot point is eluding you.
Don’t be discouraged! Is your word count higher than it was last week? Then you’re still moving forward!
Some people revise the target and make it work in their lives, not outside of it. And that’s okay.
Maybe 30 in 30 is right for you
Some people are aiming for 30,000 words in 30 days, not the full 50k. And that’s still pretty durn impressive.
Is 5 in 5 a thing?
Maybe it should be.
Is 5,000 words in 5 weeks something you could be proud of?
It’s still 5,000 more words than you started the month with. (Plus, it’s a nice round number with a cutesy rhyme, how can you go wrong with that?!)
Should You Participate In Writing Sprints?
Writing sprints are kinda a new thing for me. I’d ‘participated’ in them once or twice before. Some rando on twitter would say ‘go’, and then ‘stop’. Or I’d time myself, but there was no accountability.
This time, I checked out the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints and set up a couple with friends. Usually, starting them at the nearest quarter-hour without much prep time.
I’ve done about 7 now and I’m REALLY liking them. Tonight, I got my words in before this post with 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, with a little bit of clean-up and internet browsing in my downtime.
I create the sprint, share it, and then go. I’ve got a set stop time– that seems just a little too long, a touch of competitiveness — both with any other sprinters who clicked my link to join the sprint and with my past records of how many words I got in that time frame before, and usually, in the 3-5 minutes after creating the sprint, before it starts, I think ahead about half-a-scene’s worth, to decide exactly where the scene is going.
When my computer cheers for me to start, I’m ready.
I’ve decided 15 minutes is the sweet spot. Any longer and I’d be taking breaks, I know. I’m already starting to flounder and contemplate where to go next. At 10 minutes though, I’m still in the middle of my initial thought.
But for some, sprints are stressful. Or discouraging when you see other people’s word counts. Maybe when you’re online doesn’t synch up with your friends? No matter your reason, it’s perfectly fine to write without sprints.
(Note: Friend me here and I’ll post my sprints on my fb page here so you can join me!)
What About Write-ins?
Some people love them. The focus on writing, everyone there working on the adult version of toddler parallel-play. Being surrounded by people who understand the writing bug and are focused on their writing can be very invigorating for some people’s writing.
Some Write-ins are chatty and social and next-to-no-words get written.
Some write-ins are silent, and you hear everyone typing away while you’re sitting there wordless, feeling like a loser.
Some people enjoy the time out of the house, the change of scenery, and make it work for them.
Personally? I like the slightly chatty, but mostly focused ones, where I can get cookies to snack on.
Hating write-ins doesn’t make you a bad NaNite. Loving them doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an extrovert.* (P.S. Extroverts can be writers, too! Ask me how I know.)
Some people love soundtracks. They almost spend more prep time making their playlist than writing any sort of outline.
Some people enjoy playlists. I like to hit Pandora, find a seed-song that sets the mood for me, and roll from there.
Some people can’t write to certain kinds of music. Maybe they find music with words they can sing with too distracting. Maybe musicals? Maybe classical? Find what you can and can’t work with.
Some people like rocking out. Some people prefer to jam privately, with headphones.
And some? Some can’t do BLEEP with background noise. They need silence to focus. And that’s okay! [I totally get this! I can’t edit to music, I need the silence to think.]
There are as many ways to write as there are writers. You do you.
P.S. Check out my NaNoWriMo Posts from the Past!
Maintaining Your Writing Momentum
Tips For Finding The Time and The Words
So You Want To Be A Writer
Twas The Week Before NaNo
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
An Outline To Write By (for Plantsers and Plotters)
How to win NaNoWriMo
3 Things That Helped Me Win NaNoWriMo early
Craft Vs Professionalism