Best writing practices are like fad diets. One month cabbage soup diet is the most amazing way to get results. Then you’re told protein is the way, stuff your face with all the meats. But wait—vegan is this month’s gold standard in healthy living and weight loss. Ok, I actually do believe a vegan diet is the way to go, but this proves my point. There is NO one best practice. The one-size-fits-all best practice concept is a myth.
While I appreciate all the writing tips and how-to guides from professionals and other aspiring authors, it isn’t really practical to claim one way is the right way. It’s like women and jeans (stick with me here). The pair of jeans that fit my substantial ass without cutting into by belly pooch isn’t going to work for a gal with a tiny waist and generous thighs. You have to find what fits you. Finding your writing best practice is a personal discovery.
I’ve been attempting to write a novel for five years. I’ve tried quite a few “best practices” and here’s what I discovered…in my experience.
Myth #1: Write Every Day
This is a logical suggestion. Write every day, even if it is crap, because there are sure to be some jewels that come out of it. The problem? It started to feel like a chore to me. Chores are not fun. Doing laundry every day would be productive, but it wouldn’t be enjoyable. I viewed writing every day the same way. I don’t expect it to feel like a victory every time I do sit down to write, but I still want it to be fun.
Myth #2: Set a Word Count Goal
Ah, the pressure! I would write a paragraph and check my word count and cry. I became so obsessed with the number behind the words that I lost the importance of what the words actually meant to the story. Not a good choice for me.
Truth #1: Don’t Edit While You Write
This was the pair of jeans that actually fit me. Not criticizing every sentence while I wrote was the most productive thing that I’ve ever done. Even if I’m sending a sample read to a friend, I don’t edit it. I tell them that it will be full of grammatical mistakes, but that is how I roll. Just give me feedback on the plot, characters, etc… It is working for me.
Truth #2: Find a Happy Writing Spot
Writing on the couch in front of the TV? Writing in my reading chair in a quiet room? Writing in the library? No, no, and no. That is not my jam. Stick me outside where I’m surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells of nature. That is how I get the job done.
Bottom line—best practices are a myth. They are suggestions that may or may not work. You just have to find what works for you. Get inspired, gather ideas, and push yourself to do better by following people that offer just that. A great example is the DIY MFA book. A helpful guide that isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Do you agree or disagree with my experiences? What writing method works for you?