I’ve talked about setting writing goals a number of times on this blog, and if you’ve read any of those posts, you’ll know that I don’t set any for myself. Some people need that push to get going, or to create anything at all, but I find that this type of writing is detrimental, at least to me.
Since I have skills and training in both editing and writing, my process is very different from many other writers that I know, both online and offline. I used to feel a bit discouraged by how quickly others would produce content, especially those that were able to write a story a week, or a manuscript or two every year. I couldn’t fathom how that was even possible, but that was before I understood how their processes went.
For many writers, their process is to come up with an idea, write a story, and then work through the drafts. After this, they might send it to an editor, and then try to publish from there. By focusing on the story, and then worrying about the content alone, this scrapes mounds of time off of their process.
Mine goes very differently. First, once I have an idea, I follow it to its conclusion in my head prior to writing anything down. This can take months. But to me, to actually be worth sitting down and typing, an idea must meet my standards. If it doesn’t, I keep it in my brain until its aged to my satisfaction.
From there, I start to write. I write until I come to a question, such as something I hadn’t thought of, or how to end a scene. Then again, I take a step back for awhile and let it stew. When I do have a solution, before I even begin to fix it, I read the story from the beginning again and edit as I go. I do this every time I re-open the document, so that during every pass, I take care of another error or I smooth out a few bumps.
Writing fiction takes me a long time (non-fiction not so much). When writing even the first draft, I spend time choosing the perfect adjectives, the right speech tags, and removing anything that isn’t exactly how I want it to be.
By the time I am ready to type “The End”, the content is quite ready for submissions, though I like to have it reviewed by at least one or two others prior to sending it anywhere.
It can take a year for me to write a piece of flash fiction (without a prompt or a competition). If I am writing something completely from my own inspiration, I like to take my time so that I can produce quality work. I’m not overly concerned about quantity, since if I were to write too much more, I doubt that I would be satisfied with what I was creating.
So, when perusing through the countless writing websites and blogs and articles out there, don’t let any of them get you don’t. If your strengths can be found in generating idea after idea, excellent! And if your skills are more geared towards focusing on one piece at a time, well that’s just jolly!
Writing isn’t really a “one size fits all” kind of thing. What works for one person won’t work for another. Some writers are just not great at spelling, others prefer collaboration or to be steered from outside sources. Some of us like to plan everything before we take pen to paper, while others feel their fingers aching for the keys as soon as they think of a new plot or character.
If you are one of those who leans more towards quantity than quality, I would recommend giving it a few passes yourself before handing it off to an editor (which you really should do) so that your work doesn’t suffer from being popped out too quickly.
And if you prefer quality, don’t let it keep you from working on more than one story at once, and try to participate in a few writing prompts now and then to exercise your creativity and spontaneity.
Are you more focused on quantity or quality? What is your writing process like? Where are your weaknesses and strengths when writing new pieces?
I’ll be on Facebook until next time.