One of the things I most fascinated by is learning how other people write. For a really long time, I didn't really think that I had my own process, I just wrote. I mean, what kind of process could there be? You just sat on your laptop and wrote. It was simple really.
However, when I started having some major struggles with writing anything, I realized that I really had no idea how I actually worked. That I was just sort of slamming my face into a rock until it broke (my face usually and not the rock).
So once I began writing again, I tried to pay attention and take note on how, where, and when I felt most productive or like my writing was the strongest. What I started to find really surprised me and then in January, everything changed.
Everyone always thinks that they are amazing at multitasking. My office sits in a little alcove right behind the living room. I can't see the TV from where I sit at my desk, but I can definitely hear it. I always figured it's not distracting me, I can just put on my headphones and ignore it.
However once I started tracking my writing, I realized that when I wrote in places that had no distractions, I made the shocking discovery that yeah it made a big difference to not have a TV around at all. I wasn't tempted to peer around the corner and see what was so funny; I wasn't trying to half keep up with the plot of some new show on Netflix or who was being harshly criticized by Paul and Mary on the great British bake-off. Having silence was a huge help. And maybe that seems like a dumb moment to a lot of people and maybe it is, but it's something I didn't want to admit about myself.
I've always considered myself a sort of planner/pantser hybrid. I have a rough idea of where I'm going when I start writing but no real concrete plan. Now what I've discovered is doing a one pager of the high level moment of the story keeps me focused but give me enough playroom that I don't feel bored by the story because I know everything is going to happen. Knowing that has helped me figure out what I need to know before I even start writing.
Previously I would have an idea for a beginning and start and then immediately fizzle out because I no idea what happens next or alternatively with an in-depth outline I would never start because I spent much time on the outline. But now I don't even use my computer anymore. I have this really nifty notebook I got for Christmas, a rocket book, it scans straight into my dropbox account. So I can access my notes anywhere even if I don't have my note book on me. It's amazing.
But what's made the biggest difference in my writing process has been switching to dictation. When I'm dictating my story, I can feel the cadence and the voice of the character way stronger than ever felt before. I can say something out loud and suddenly know it's not right even though it might look okay on paper. But hearing myself speak it helped me catch weird sentences or repetitive phrases.
At first, dictating was really awkward and honestly a lot slower than typing by hand. But now that I've started to get the hang of it, it's about the same speed as typing and honestly, I think as I get stronger and more confident about it, it will easily exceed my typing speed. My best day so far has been 4200 words in an hour of dictation. And that's a story, not just the blog posts or some rambling brainstorming.
So now I have an idea of what I need to best set myself up to succeed. Because without knowing how I write, how I think, how I need to plan things, it only makes me have to swim against the tide. Having a plan, and understanding my own process helps me be able to move with the tide, not be constantly fighting. I feel so much more productive and writing has become a joy again.
I know over time though a lot of processes change and I'm definitely keeping an eye out for that. Pretty soon I'll be starting on an entirely new series, And when that happens it may turn out that everything I've established for what I'm working on right now, doesn't work the same. But now I have an idea of what works for me and what I can tweak.
So if you haven't already, I really encourage you to spend some time figuring out what works for you, where and when you write the best, And how you can play to that. If you write best in coffee shops, maybe you go to a coffee shop once or twice a week after work. If you write best alone in solitude and silence, maybe you're like me and need to literally lock yourself in your closet. Find what works for you and play to that, set yourself up for a win because writing to me really hard. To take a little bit of time and figure out what's best for you and how you can achieve that.