Every writer can benefit from a study of the effectiveness of their individual writing process. You can write more and you can write better by making some adjustments in your writing strategy.
Recently one of my writer friends complained about their declining word output.
“I spend more time at the computer than I ever did before and I’m just not producing like I used to,” she griped.
After spending a day in writing conferences coaching my struggling novice writers, my response came without conscious thought on my part: “Tell me about your writing process.”
“My what?” She asked.
I regularly coach my beginning writers about how to develop their own personal writing strategy or process and as a teacher of writing I think about mine quite often, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that experienced, professional writers rarely spend time talking about this critical element.
What a mistake!
It is easy to understand why. Many of us are simply too busy writing to think too much about the actual process. We have deadlines to meet, assignments to pursue, and pitches to create. When we do spend time with other writers our interactions typically fall into three categories–seeking admiration for our success, input for our end product, or escape from writing.
Many writers also take their writing process for granted and simply follow the old adage–if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But what happens when it does break down as it did with my friend? If you don’t understand your own writing process then you can’t fix it. And just like many of the machines in your life, regular maintenance checks just might prevent a major breakdown in the future.
My friend’s problem was easily identified and solved once we actually studied her writing process and writing life. Yes she was spending more time in front of the computer but she had lost a big chunk of her prewriting time due to changes in her home life. Once she understood that problem she was able to make adjustments to her schedule and she is seeing her daily word count rising back to her old levels.
So how is your writing process?
Many writers shy away from the term as it brings back fearful memories of a rigid structure forced on them in school. That is not what I want to talk about at all. Frankly, I always teach my students that there is no such as thing as the writing process.