How do you write?

Well, it’s that time again.  We’re in the midst of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where novices and experts alike try to write 50,000 words in one month.

I wish I could say there are two kinds of writers – those who struggle to craft every word and those who write quickly and with a verbosity that makes me a little jealous.

But there aren’t just two kinds of writers.  There are world builders and character developers – authors who spend a lot of time creating backstories and scenes for their works of art.  And while you can detect whiffs of this work in a novel, a lot of this writing is not fully incorporated into the final story.

There are outliners who plot down to the sub-chapter and there are writers who work, as Stephen King noted in On Writing, like archeologists uncovering fossils of their story as they go. (Side note: If you haven’t picked up On Writing, you should. It’s lovely).

Then there are character driven writers – who think up (or meet) an interesting character and then follow them around a novel.  There a plot driven writers, who have a great story idea and find characters along the way.  And that’s just the fiction world.  It’s hard to forget the many memoir, scientific, historical, and other nonfiction writers there are out there.  And I haven’t even touched on how we write – laptops, phones, notebooks, iPads, and typewriters.

But whatever kind of writer you are and regardless of your participation in NaNoWriMo, I’ll leave you with the words from the song NonStop from Hamilton, which for me seem appropriate as I try to get back on the writing bandwagon:

“How do you write like you’re running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
Every day you fight like you’re running out of time
Like you’re running out of time….
How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write every second you’re alive?”

I wish that kind of passion and intensity were something that can be turned on as easily as a light switch.  But alas, I think it takes an intense and probably daily dedication to the craft of writing.
….unless someone out there has a shortcut, in which case – please, enlighten me. 🙂
Anyway, regardless of how you write, good luck this month!  May your verbs be strong and your pens mighty. 😉

10 thoughts on “How do you write?

  1. Oh, let me take this opportunity to bloviate profusely on my writing style. This is a cautionary tale. I write about 5000 words an hour. I like to write about 15,000 words in a sitting to feel like I’ve actually written something. And here is why, once I’m done blasting out my prose, I go back and realize I have no idea what I wrote. I really can’t make any sense of it. After three hours of writing, I spend 10 hours cutting, correcting and making sure all my mispellings are real words. When I’m done, I have an opening paragraph that sucks so bad, there is no oxygen in the room to stay concious enough to continue. It’s an iterative process. Eventually, I have three paragraphs and I’m exhausted and it’s likely somebody’s birthday so I go shopping and find some air to breath as a bonus. My writing is actually good exercise as I have excellent tone in my pencil gripping muscles and I can crack hickory nuts with my confused look squinting muscles. I can’t say this writing process actually works but I own it. I think I’ll follow your advice and see what SK can do to help. And thank you Leesha for your tolerance and encouragement. 😊

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    • I’m so jealous that you can write so fast! I understand you have to go back and edit, but I think every type of writer does. I’m trying to go back and add flavor to my writing as often I find that I’m more of a bare bones writer. It’s like squeezing blood from a rock to get me to add in pretty descriptors and richness that most novels require. My problem is that I get in my head a lot when I write and I find that I can easily write 400 to 500 words, but more than that takes serious focus. 😕 I guess we all have our quirks!

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      • Don’t be jealous of my failure to achieve clear and concise prose. We all have our ways that work for us. I was nearly crushed by all of the common rules and wisdoms which led me to try to write in as spare a prose as possible and it left me with nothing of interest to share. I had to find the balance between the fathomless universe in my head and the right words and structure to allow my readers a chance to appreciate the story without their minds getting gummed up on the telling of the story. I’m not there yet but every attempt gets me closer to finding my style that works. I’m very interested in reading other writers of all genre’s. I am inspired by others.

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      • I think you’re being very humble on your ability to write. I suppose everyone has their own process and it’s always good to learn about what other people do. If anything, it can give us ideas and also crack to door on someone else’s thoughts. 🙂

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      • Absolutely Leesha! And I truly enjoy how the writerly community shares their knowledge and insights here on WP and other media. Nobody has to go it alone and ultimately, the art is improved by such an inclusive community.

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  2. It’s often caused by trying to do everything at once. All of the points have merit, scenery, description, character, plot, etc. You can handle all of them, but you can’t learn all of them at once. Sometimes you have to choose one to focus on, then take that to critique group and see how it comes across to others.

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    • That makes me feel better. I need to apply self discipline as well. Hopefully I’ll get to the point where I can be consistent and verbose. Though, I’m sure it would make the editing job take longer…


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