Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Writing Tip Tuesday

So, I thought I'd continue the theme of "not every rule/process/technique is right for everyone."

Sometimes (well, okay, a lot of times) writers say to other writers, "Don't worry about that messy writing right now. Just keep going and you can fix it later."


"Writers should write every day."


"You need to practice writing. It doesn't matter what - just jot down stream-of-consciousness stuff or whatever - it's the practice that counts."


"Writers should keep journals."

But you know what?

That advice just doesn't work for me.

Trust me, I've tried all those things.

Like my post about character development exercises, I feel strongly that every writer is different.

What works for one doesn't work for everyone.

I think it's important to try new ways of doing things, but to ultimately find your groove and your style.

I can't just "keep going" on a piece and "worry about it later." I need to tidy up as I go along. That's the way I work.

I hate, loathe and despise writing for the sake of writing.

I write when I have something worthwhile to write that feels good writing.

I don't want to "practice" by writing crapola that means nothing to me.

That kind of writing does absolutely nothing to help me as a writer; it only frustrates me and makes me want to watch Judge Judy reruns or vacuum my closet floors instead.

AND - I don't feel that I have to write every day.

Some days I need to think about writing.

Thinking about writing is part of the process of writing. My BEST writing is a product of much thought.

And some days I need to watch Judge Judy reruns.

That's my style. That's what works best for me.

As for journaling? I've tried it.

I've bought the most beautiful journals you ever saw - leather ones and satin ones and embroidered ones. I even have some I got in Italy with buttery soft leather covers and little straps that wrap around them and handmade paper.

Those journals end up saying stuff like: "Dang, today I ate way too many potato chips." Or "Got this adorable jacket on sale at Nordstrom. Woohoo!"

Maybe it's because I'm just shallow like that, but journaling does NOTHING for my "real" writing.

So my tip is this:

Listen to advice from other writers. Learn what processes/exercises/habits work for them - especially writers whose work you admire.

Try those processes/exercises/habits.

Then decide what works best for YOU.

If that means writing every day, then by all means, do it.

If that means journaling, do it.

If that means writing only when you have something you want and need to write about, do it.

If that means watching Judge Judy reruns, do it.

And my final thought?

If you don't write every day, I say:


P.S. to teachers: Keep in mind that some of the tips I offer here won't necessarily apply to youngsters. Most of my tips are intended primarily for my fellow grown-up writers who write for children. I understand that 4th graders may very well benefit from journaling, for instance. And fifth graders may need to write every day. And sixth graders probably need to practice writing by just writing "stuff".

But like many things in life, the "rules" that apply to children don't always apply to adults, and vice versa.

Sometimes kids need to just "do as I say and not as I do" until they are "fully cooked" enough to do it their own way, right?

There - that's my disclaimer.



Anonymous said...

"Those journals end up saying stuff like: "Dang, today I ate way too many potato chips." Or "Got this adorable jacket on sale at Nordstrom. Woohoo!"

Amen, Sistah! My beautiful journals are lined up on a shelf, pretty to look at, but blank inside, or nearly so. If you open one, it might say, "Why am I doing this? Who's going to read it?"

I hate writing exercises, too. Bleh.

Sara said...

My journals are the ugliest notebooks I can find. That way, I don't feel any pressure to make the writing inside "worthy" of the beautiful cover. I blogged once that my journals were dumpsters, holding all the debris from the writing process, so my head didn't have to.

That's what's so thrilling/wonderful/confusing/rewarding about writing: you gotta hack out your own path through the jungle.

Heidi Quist said...

I'm glad that I kept a journal as a teenager. Reading it now sometimes helps me get in the head of the young people I'd like to read. And I still write once a week now, but not every day. I agree, I can't bog myself down writing nonsense just to write. But it does help sometimes to go back and read, too, things I wrote as an adult to see my progress. Anyway yes indeed, have to find what works for you personally.