I recently had the pleasure of speaking at three different libraries in the Arapahoe County Library District, and the students who showed up blew me away. Most of them were already working on projects, many of them had already finished projects, and all of them were writers that inspired me. Some wrote sci-fi, some fantasy, one historical fiction, and another poetry.
Since all of the students I talked to were already writers, I focused on discussing the writing process, which is different for everyone.
First, I asked the students, “What kind of a writer are you?” Some writers are very organized, and tend to edit as they go. Others, as Hemingway said, “…Sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Still others just fit in snippets of writing here and there when they have time.
Left to just your style of writing, each of these types of writers would have a tough time finishing anything. The self-editor might take months to crank out The Perfect Chapter. The bleeder might explode beautiful prose on hundreds of pages, but never really make sense of it with an outline to guide the plot. And the piecemeal writer might have a lot of snippets of genius that don’t make a complete story.
So, once you’ve identified what kind of writer you are, now you can work on creating a writing process that works for you. A process that honors your style of writing, but which also carries you through a project to completion.
**In essence, as you’re doing this exercise, keep in mind that structured writing and a thought-through process should never disrupt your writing flow.**
Now for the fun part. Set three types of goals for yourself, and keep them handy:
1. Your Long Term Goals (What do you ultimately want to accomplish as a writer, 5-10 years from now. Dream big!)
2. Your Short Term Goals (what do you want to accomplish in the next year or two – a particular novel or book? It should be something achievable in the near future.)
3. Your Daily Goals (what do you aim to do on a daily basis that will help get you from today to your completed project, to your ultimate goal as a writer?)
**Keep in mind, these goals can change. Your daily goals will change frequently, as you start making your way through your short story or novel. Once you’ve accomplished your Short Term Goal, make a new one!**
Finally, I told the students, write. Set your alarm clock for an hour, turn off social media, and try to accomplish your daily writing goal. Edit yourself if you have to, bleed at the typewriter if you need to, or jot down all the thoughts, feelings and scenes that affected you throughout the day. But achieve what you set out to achieve for the day. And then pat yourself on the back. Because you are a writer, and today you wrote.
Now time to follow my own advice! My goal for today is to make a detailed outline of the first three chapters of my next Deb Detective book.
In the meantime, what kind of writer are you, and what tips do you have for the rest of us?
Happy writing, everyone!