Finding Your Own Way Of Writing A Book
by Writing Workshops Org Admin
A year ago
There are thousands of writing programs and how-to guides out there, offering you “my proven method for writing a bestseller” or “how I wrote my first novel.” While I do not doubt those author’s abilities or advice, you’re not them. Relying on what worked for some other person may find you frustrated when that advice doesn’t work the same for you. The real truth is, there are plenty of ways to write a novel, and any way you choose will be the right way.
Plotting or Pantsing
You may hear novelists pigeonholed into one of these two categories. Plotters take time before the actual novel-writing to plan out their book with outlines, character description sheets, world-building exercises, and so on. Pantsers tend to sit at the keyboard, start typing, and see where their imagination takes them. The dispute between these two groups on which method is right could rival even the most intense political debate.
Both plotting and pantsing work for novel writing, and very seldom are you staunchly one or the other. If you just can’t wrap your head around an idea until you outline it, then do that. If you feel an urge to sit down and write spontaneously, do that. Plotters shouldn’t be afraid to go off-outline when inspiration strikes. And pantsers shouldn’t be afraid to outline their ideas when they feel stuck. Being only one or the other might, in fact, slow your novel progression.
Athletes have coaches. CEOs have coaches. It would make sense that a writer should have a coach too. But does that mean you absolutely need one? Of course not. Hiring a writing coach can help you if you have trouble getting started or staying motivated. They can steer you around plot holes. They can lead your characters to fuller development. But a writing coach cannot guarantee future publication.
The majority of writers choose to go it alone, and this is completely okay. There are plenty of free or inexpensive resources out there that can help guide your writing as a coach would. Search for writing tips on popular blogs (like this one!), download free manuals and workbooks offered by other writers, and draw inspiration from books on writing. Can a writing coach help get your novel finished? Sure. Can you do it on your own? Sure. Only you know what you need.
Writing Groups & Workshops
Crafting a novel can be a very solitary process. Many people encourage writers to join writing groups and workshops, either locally or online, to build a sense of community. Going to a group or class can help you get over hurdles, get feedback on your work in progress, and learn from the mistakes of others.
But depending on the type of group you visit, very little writing, editing, and critiquing may get done at the meetings. If you try several groups or writing classes and feel that you aren’t getting anything from them, don’t go. No one says you absolutely have to be in a writing group to write anything. Groups are great for comradery and support, but a phone call to your mother or your best friend might be all you need to get motivated again.
Edit as you go! Some writers shout this from the rooftops, trying to encourage you to edit now to avoid a mess later. Other writers will claim that you shouldn’t delete a single word until you’ve reached the very end. Every novel needs editing, so this isn’t a step that can be skipped, but when and how you choose to edit is completely up to you.
I know novelists who edit every word ten seconds after they write it. I also know novelists who don’t edit a thing until they hand it to a professional editor. They all edit, but it’s a question of when and how much. The answer to that question? Try several ways for yourself and find out what works.
Getting started is often the hardest part of writing. No matter how you decide to write your novel, the important part is actually sitting down to write it. I see many novelists who worry about whether they are “doing it right.” There is no correct way, only YOUR way. Any path leading to manuscript completion is a valid and good way of writing a novel.