There is No Right Way

Happy March, friends! Last month we had a blast talking fantasy, but today I want to focus on the writing process again. Particularly, I’d like to discuss the advice that floats around out there in the interwebs and how we develop our writing methods.

You see, the writing process is incredibly personalized… what works for one doesn’t work for all. As writers, we learn over time how to recognize what works best for us and organize our time and abilities to make the most progress.

But despite this truth, I still see countless articles, blog posts, and bits of advice telling writers how they should approach their writing. How they have to set aside a certain time EVERY DAY, how they must write every day, how they should do this, or do that, and if they don’t, they’re not really a writer.

But all that is malarky. One writer’s method may work for them, but it may not work for anyone else. As writers, we need to be wise with what we read and consume and understand this. Other writers may give advice or sure-fire methods to getting that book done, but in reality, they can only share things from their own experience.

When we start writing, it is good to take in as many methods as possible, to try out approaches we might not have tried or considered before. But as we write and practice, we will learn what works (and doesn’t work) for us. And eventually we will have our ideal writing method. We will keep the things that work and discard the rest. And maybe sometimes we will revisit methods when we find we need to refine our methods yet again.

Even after years, the method you develop may not be a concrete method. Your writing process will likely continue to develop and change as you continue to write. Personally, I have tried many methods, and while I found some things that worked and I thought they would be solid forever, I ended up ditching them because they no longer served me.

And that’s okay.

The truth is you will constantly be adapting and altering your method, even minutely, based on your circumstances and current projects. You will eventually find what works for you (or for that project) and stick to that. But then it may change again.

Don’t be afraid of changing, and don’t be afraid to defy the next hot bit of advice to come out of the internet. And also don’t be afraid to try new methods. You may find one that suits you even better than what you thought was your ideal process!

The bottom line is this: do what is best for you, no matter what anyone else says, do what helps you write and focus the most. Do this, and the story will happen in ways you never imagined possible.


What methods are you currently using? What bits of advice have you seen… and hated? Tell me below!

Yes, You’re Still a Writer.

Writers write. Right? That’s what it means to be a writer. But what about those times that you need to take a break?

This is life. We encounter problems like lack of time (even if we try to make the time, sometimes we can’t), health problems (physical or mental), and unexpected obligations or tasks that require our time and energy (in work, our personal life, or both). Sometimes we are so drained or unable to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) that we just can’t write. So we don’t.

You’ll probably see a lot of advice out there telling you that in order to call yourself a writer, you must write every day. I have said before that in order to be a writer you must write. But I know it isn’t reasonable and shouldn’t be expected that a writer writes every single day.

Instead, I think it’s more realistic to say that a writer writes when he or she can, regardless of inspiration. It’s about dedication. Practice writing is important to making your writing better. But sometimes writers can’t write, and that’s when they often sit and think about writing. Or the fact that they’re not writing. It’s a guilty cycle. When you write, you don’t feel like a real writer. When you don’t write, you feel like a bad writer.

My advice is usually to try to make yourself write something every day. Even if that something is a sentence. But if you can’t, it’s really okay. I promise. You don’t stop being a writer. It’s okay to take a break when you need to. It’s okay to skip days. I’ve skipped days, I’ve taken long breaks for months. I’ve had years where I barely wrote a word. I’ve felt the guilt and the itch of not being able to write for one reason or another. But I’ve learned that it’s okay.

Think about the stars. Do they go away when the sun comes out? No! The sunlight just keeps us from being able to see them for a while. But as soon as the sun goes down, the stars come back as bright as ever.

It’s the same thing with writing. If you’re taking a break from writing, think of yourself as a star during the day. You’re still a writer, you just aren’t showing your writer side for the time being. It will come back, if that’s what you want.

So don’t stress yourself out so much. Write when you can, when you have the time and energy and health to put into it. If you can’t, don’t count yourself out. Come back to it when you are able, and focus your energy on where it needs to be in the moment.

Don’t let anyone tell you that means you’re not a writer. You are still a writer.

Advice for Aspiring Writers

  1. Claim your name. If you write, you are a writer. The longer you call yourself an “aspiring writer” instead of a writer, the longer you keep yourself from the pride and inclusion and knowledge that you are, indeed, a writer.
  2. Get serious about your craft. This means making time to write every day or almost every day. Writing out of habit and commitment will get you closer to finishing your first book than waiting for inspiration.
  3. Start even if you don’t feel ready. Because I’ll give you a hint: no one ever actually feels ready. The longer you put it off, the longer it will be until you feel like a writer.
  4. Make some writer friends. Talk to writers online. Talk to writer friends in real life. Just connect with someone who will be able to discuss the finer points of writing with you and inspire you to keep working for your dream.
  5. Read up on your craft. This includes blog posts from other writers either on Tumblr, online blogs, or, where I found most of my beginning knowledge, Pinterest. Read some classic books on the craft of writing like On Writing by Stephen King or Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
  6. Learn how to write. Commit yourself to learning the rules so you know how you can break them in ways that make your writing stronger.
  7. Just Write. This is the key to being a writer. Write when you don’t feel ready. Write when you’re not sure. Write even when you don’t feel like writing. Write because you’re a writer and you must. Just write. For this is literally the only way you can actually improve your writing.