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 soupçon 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?