Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Writing Wednesday: Just Keep Writing

This is Dory the fish.
Not your first pick for a motivational speaker, but her simple message can be encouraging in many situations.
“Just keep swimming.”

A little creative thinking might be necessary in order to see the beauty in her advice, especially since I can’t swim.  I write. So when I see Dory, I hear her happy optimistic voice saying, “Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing.”

I realized the wonder of this piece of advice as I worked through the revision of a novel I wrote a couple of years ago. As I read this manuscript, I saw how my writing had improved. I also noticed some patterns in my writing process. For instance, I hate writing the first draft and would far rather revise. I need to give my manuscripts a long rest before I start the revision process and when I get into the zone, writing or revising, I need to ride the wave of energy until it (or I'm) exhausted.

All this I learned about myself because I just kept writing. I’ve read many writing books to help to improve my craft. I’ve gone to conferences and workshops, even took online classes. But in the end, all of that is useless unless I put it to practice. Unless I wrote.

I’ve often heard that writing brings about self-discovery. A true statement. Writing is not only about what to write but how to write it. The best way to discover the “how” is to just keep writing. When you continue to write, patterns will form and your understanding of who you are as a writer will grow. Once these patterns are established and recognized, you’ll write more. You’ll a rhythm in your writing like gliding through the waves. You’ll write like you.

There are many books, classes and websites out there to tell you about other people’s methods. But once you’ve establish your patterns, recognize things about you, you will be able to better decide if a piece of writing advice will work for you (it is, after all, advice, not the gospel).

For instance, I’ve read books promoting getting up early and writing. Nice advice, but not for me. Since I am not a morning person, my brain isn’t functioning properly until around 9am and I cannot write while I’m sleepy (and if I do, I’ll end up deleting whatever I wrote anyways).  I am most alert between 10pm and 2am. Also, my family is sound asleep during those hours, so no interruptions. So I can disregard that advice. Why? Because I just kept writing and I understood that mornings don't work for me.

There are some things about your writing process that no book can teach you. Things you will only discover as you continue to write. Remember Dory. Just keep writing. 

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