In writing a recent post on “Why Your Writing Fails” it dawned on me that something very strange was afoot. Strange not in a woowoo (cue spooky music) kind of way, but in an isn’t-this-odd-that-we’re-all-doing-it-even-if-it’s-not-working kind of way.
No matter what you are doing with your writing, working to improve your own personal writing process is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
- Blogging? Improving your personal writing process will make your writing more effective.
- Freelance writing? Improving your personal writing process will make you more efficient so you make more money per minute.
- Creating a website? Improving your personal writing process will help you communicate more forcefully.
It’s possible that you believe the writing process is an elusive mysterious energy flow thingie that only visits you once in awhile when the moons align and you wear your lucky hat turned backwards.
But the reality is, any writer, yes, even you, can use these simple steps to improve your own personal writing process.
First Key – Give yourself permission to forget the traditional steps of the writing process
If you Google “writing process”, you’ll find tons of information – a lot of it telling you that the writing process consists of 1) Decide what to write about, 2) Write your draft, 3) Revise, 4) Edit, 5) Publish. Even Wikipedia will tell you that is the process.
But what if it’s not for you? What if your brain happens to work more like 1) Think the draft, 2)Think the revision, 3) Write down what you already wrote in your head 4) publish you finished product.
Or maybe you’re more of a writer that operates like this: 1) Sit and start writing with no topic in mind, 2) Continue to write until your mind is cleansed, 3) Pick a few random paragraphs, 4) Throw a few edits at it, 4) Add another random paragraph, 5) Smoosh together what you have, 6) Publish.
In other words, your mind may function totally differently (you are unique after all). Which means, if you’re trying to force yourself into a writing process that you’re ‘supposed to follow’, you could actually be harming your creativity and therefore, your ultimate output. If so, stop it right now! Don’t try and write in a way that isn’t optimum for you.
Second Key – Give yourself permission to regroup, or even project jump
Follow through, stick with it, never quit…and so on. These phrases are pounded into us from an early age. It’s entirely possible you’re working on your say, first ebook, and you’re halfway through and you’re stymied. It’s just not flowing for you anymore. In fact, you don’t have any desire to finish it.
If you find yourself in this position rather than forcing yourself to persevere, stop, and ask yourself this:
1. Is it possible you’ve already learned what you needed to learn from this unfinished project?
Consider this – maybe the point of the project, after all, was not to finish the project, but to do it to a certain point so you could learn something (about the topic, about yourself, about your writing) and take that thing into your next project. In this case, it might just be a waste of your time to continue on.
Now, if you do this with every project you might just be afraid to finish something because then you’ll have to send your baby out into the world – in which case, that is another issue entirely.
But if this happens once in a while, be okay with not completing a project (and while we’re at it, it’s also okay to stop reading a book that you are not enjoying. Really).
Third Key – Give yourself permission to be really really wrong
We all like to be right. In fact, it’s a little stressful going in the face of the almighty WRITING PROCESS that is still taught in schools, to this day. (However, on this, I am not wrong, just saying). But the thing is, if you never put yourself far enough on a limb that you might fall, then you’re never risking anything and you’ll never be really really right either. You’ll just be middle of the road. Kind of dull. (true for writing, true for life).
So, allow yourself to take a stance with your writing, even if it’s a little scary because it’s guaranteed that someone, somewhere, will be able to relate and will benefit by you putting yourself out there.
And that strange thing afoot (not in a woowoo (cue spooky music) kind of way, but in an isn’t-this-odd-that-we’re-all-doing-it-even-if-it’s-not-working kind of way) that dawned on me?
Often, as writers, we are wrestling with the wrong things – we’re wresting with other peoples things rather than our own. We’re following someone elses process, or ideas, or goals or….
Which means we inevitably get dead-ended on our paths. Because, truly, if you are struggling with your writing, then it’s a sign that somewhere along the line you stopped being true to yourself.
When you struggle with your writing, you’re struggling with yourself so use that struggle as your cue to reevaluate and just maybe, change direction.