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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Embrace the Process by Kait Carson

At the start of the year my inbox was filled with newsletters. You know the kind, self-help, how-to, suggestions for resolutions (not), suggestions for goals—and how to accomplish them. I skimmed most of the copy. After all, someone took the time to craft the newsletters. They deserved at least a skim. There was only one that resonated. Gwen Hernandez’s e-mail, New Year, Old Process, not only spoke to me, it screamed at me.

 

This is my first year as a full-time writer. In years past, I’ve squeezed writing in during odd moments, late nights, and early mornings. My process was one of fits and starts. Long flowing hours where I thought I could actually do this thing called write followed by arid times where I was pretty sure I’d never taken an English class and had a less than passing acquaintance with grammar.

 

Now that I’m not working a day job, I’ve got the time to write. All I needed to do was figure out how and when. I hear about fellow writers who hit 10,000-word goals on a weekly basis. In their spare time they churn out short stories. These are disciplined people. I feel inadequate. My process is different. I write fast, edit as I go, but may be working on three projects at one time. My writing day consists of one from column A and two from column B, always driven by desire. Then add in a soup├žon of marketing.

 

It’s the kiss of death to tell myself that today I will write two chapters on the WIP. That guarantees that when I sit down, all I’m going to want to write is a short story and a blog post. If I force myself to write those two chapters, they inevitably need a serious re-write. Yes, there are times when I crank out 5,000 words in a sitting on my WIP, but those days are rare. More often than not, I’ll write a scene or two and then move on to something else. My process is messy. It’s geared toward my short attention span. I’m on track to write three books this year. In my very own way.

 

My engineer father used to say if it works, don’t fix it. My process works for me. It wasn’t until I read Gwen’s newsletter that I understood it didn’t need to be fixed. It’s my process and I need to embrace it and quit trying to take pages from the books of others. If I don’t do that, all I am accomplishing is fighting myself. That’s a losing battle.

 

What about you? Do you do the thing you think you should because it works for someone else, or do you follow your own drummer?

9 comments:

KM Rockwood said...

We all have different methods. While it's interesting to hear how other writers work, and we might find some ideas to try, what works for one person won't work the same way for another.

Respect your own process, and when you find your path, stick to it.

Jim Jackson said...

I do what works for me, with one large caveat. I continually experiment because I'm sure I can improve on my process. Most experiments fail and I abandon them in short order. A few are tremendous successes and those I adopt into the new what works for me process.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

After a lot of tinkering, and realizing that what other writers do is their process, not mine, I've established my own routine.

However, I'm used to working in a quiet house all day...but not anymore.

Susan said...

Kait, you are so right. We all work differently.

Molly MacRae said...

This is so true, Kait. Part of my process seems to be that I need to remember, with each new project, that the way I work actually works. Sometimes remembering comes with an "I told you so" and sometimes it comes as a nice surprise. One word after another . . .

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Kait,
Thanks for giving me permission to be a pantser when the mood strikes me, to write to show music when I need to pick up my pace (the particular tunes change for every book), and to understand that my process isn't the one normally recommended of sitting down and writing so many words in a day. Great blog.

Shari Randall said...

I'm always reading about other writers' processes, searching for that holy grail of the perfect process. My most productive day ever just isn't practical (over 6,000 words on a train from DC to CT)! Thank you for permission, as Debra said, to just do what works for me, no matter how messy or disorganized.

Kait said...

@KM - It's a hard fought and hard won lesson, K.M., and you are correct.

@Jim - that's the plan. Keep trying things and taking what works best. The trick is knowing when to stop trying.

@Margaret - I completely understand. It always amazes me how much more Kait work happens when hubs is off doing his thing.

@Susan - so true!

@Molly - you have phrased it perfectly. They way we work, works.

@Debra - Thanks, Debra! You absolutely have my permission - and the added value note - no guilt for doing it your way - it works.

Kait said...

@ Shari - 6k words! Wait, I'm digesting that :).