Sunday, March 5, 2017

Writing Tip #21: Who You Are

If you've made it to Tip #21 then you're now thinking to yourself: "Um, Renna, I'm a writer. Duh." Obviously. But like everything else in the complex world which is writing, you're more than a writer. Author? Sure. Editor? Yep. Promoter? Probably, well, should be. Social media royalty? It'd likely help.

This is not about you being a writer or any of the above. It's about who you are as a writer. Do you plan and plot out every detail? Do you open up a blank page, have a theme in mind and go with it? Are you a mix of both?

We'll go deeper: do you find you write better in the morning, afternoon or night? Are you more productive in small bursts or long sessions? Do you need to work on multiple projects at the same time or are you the kind of person who has to get something completely finished before moving onto something else?

Do you have to turn off spell check and grammar check to get a chapter done? Do you have to go back and read what you wrote before to get back into the groove? Do you have to edit as you go? Do you have to write in silence or can you write with background noise?

Do you write old-school with pen/pencil and paper or is everything stored on your computer? Do you need to use a fancy writing program or are you okay with the basics? Do you write linerally or write whatever scene catches your interest?

Why is this important?

Well, figuring out who you are as a writer will help you succeed in you know, writing. If you don't know what makes you reach your peak word count goals per hour/day/week/month/year then you'll never hit those goals.

The problem is figuring out what kind of writer you are can take time. It can also change over time in drastic ways. Finding out your most successful approach to writing comes with experience and investment. It can also come with changes in technology as the world around us ages.

See, I used to hand write everything on paper with pencil or pen. I would never finish anything and never planned. I would write whenever and paper didn't have spell check so naturally I didn't edit as I went.

Now, everything I need for a novel can be found in one Word doc with a supplimentry document usually called "planning." I can still write whenever and I need to go back and read what I wrote to get back into the groove. I edit as I go and I always write from beginning to end, never deviating from the timeline to write a cool scene I'm looking forward to ahead of what comes before it.

I'm also a mix of both plotter and pantser. I have a large picture understanding, characters, a timeline, and maybe a few subplots but the majority of details and sometimes even entire scenes are written on a whim.

Heck, sometimes the entire story changes as I go and I end up with something better than I thought I would. I have to have music playing in the background or my brain will wander off and I won't get anything done.

Knowing all of the above has helped me win multiple NaNos, Camp NaNos, and has allowed me to successfully write a million words for the past, er, four years? Yeah. Something like that. It's allowed me to finish forty-someodd novels, a bunch of short stories and start Avalora (which is never-ending I swear).

I've also been able to plan my life around my writing. I know what I need to hit my optimal word counts and know how many hours it would take me to bang out a medium sized chapter. This means if I know I'm getting up early (or need to) I can plan some extra time to write during the week. I can plan around life-stuff and writing-stuff and not fall behind on anything.

I have time to socialize, to plan trips, work, and STILL make the million in a year. Mind you, I have gone from "must work on one project at a time" to "can work on more than one project" mainly because of the sheer size of Avalora and man, sometimes I need a break from the universe despite how much I love it.

There isn't a magic pill or special trick to figuring out who you are as a writer. You have to try everything in order to find the perfect flow but once you do then you'll be better for it.

Until next time: you know what to do.

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