Everyone’s writing process is different.
Ernest Hemingway did it differently than F. Scott Fitzgerald, who did it differently than Stephen King, who does it differently than any number of other authors. Does that make one of them inherently better? No. If it did, someone would have captured their method and reaped the benefits.
In other industries, there are what we call “best practices.” There are certainly similar such things in writing, (grammatical rules, general story structure, etc.) but in terms of the actual process, there isn’t one way to do it.
The problem is, there are a great many authors and writers out there, and they’re all saying that one method or another is the only way it should be done. This is a lie.
In fact, that’s the beauty of writing. You can do it how you want.
However, there are some things to consider when developing your own writing process. Here are a few dos and don’ts that I would suggest. (Even these I’m not submitting as the one and only way). Take them or leave them.
DO observe others’ methods
You need something to draw from. No writer put pen to paper and wrote a great book without first reading a great book. Read, read, read, and pay attention to what you read.
DO try them out for yourself
Once you have an idea of the type of things you want to write, then you can start to borrow from others’ methods and see if you like them. I recently got to hear bestselling author, Karen Kingsbury speak on her writing process, and she said that if there are no distractions, she can write 8,000 to 10,000 words in one day. That’s a lot! The bottom line: Some writers write thousands of words a day, some only write a few hundred. It doesn’t really matter how many a day, as long as you are writing.
DO use what works best for you
Some of the things you try won’t work for you. Many writers like to use detailed outlines, while other simply start writing, and worry about editing it all later. Let me be very clear in saying that it does not matter which way you do, as long as you are comfortable doing it.
DON’T get caught up in comparison
Just because Karen Kingsbury is writing 8,000 to 10,000 words a day, and I only wrote 1,500 does not mean that one of our methods is better than the other. Comparing yourself to other writers is deadly, crippling. Plus, I’ve got news for you: there’s always going to be someone better, younger, faster, or more famous. Once you accept that, it only gets easier from there.
DON’T force yourself into doing something that doesn’t work for you
Maybe you love how J.K. Rowling outlines her novels before starting to write. Maybe you try to do the same thing…and it’s just not working for you. That’s OK! You don’t have to be an outliner. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to produce second rate prose. Do what works for you.
DON’T over think things
Even when the writing is going good, it can be so easy to look at someone else and say, “but I want to do it like that!” The best thing I can say to this is: shut up. Don’t over think, just do.
So there you have it! The dos and don’ts of your writing process.
Bottom line: find your niche and stick with it.