An Individual Approach Despite All the Advice and Non-Advice

It’s true. If you’ve been reading and reeling through the blogosphere you will have discovered that everyone has a different approach to writing. Every rule has an opposite rule, much like the “action and reaction” law*.

How many books and blog posts have you read with sound advice that was opposite to the excellent advice you found somewhere else? Have you discovered any other writer whose process of writing is exactly the same as yours?

Sometimes I forget that God made me as a unique individual. I am a single pebble grinding my way through a pile of gravel on a bumpy road. I look for rules to follow, directions to make my writing journey a success instead of embracing my individuality and trusting the instincts God has given me. For all my attempts to fit into the right mold there are an equal number of reasons why I shouldn’t.

Following a link on agent Janet Reid’s blog I came across a post by Sean Ferrell where he talks about his writing process.  I recognized his method of writing as being as uninhibited as mine. It made me take a deep breath and relax. It made me remember that one path may wander towards its destination while another follows a grid, only turning corners at intersections, but both will let you walk whichever one you choose to take.

I’d like to tell you all the things Sean Ferrell said, but it would be more effective if you just popped over to his blog and read it for yourself.

Me? I’m going to polish off the novel I’ve been revising, and then I’m moving on to the one that’s waiting to be finished… waiting to be told in its own way. Instead of worrying about the right words and how to say them, I’ll “write what I hear in me.” (Yes, those are Sean’s words.) I’ve read and absorbed all the rules to death. Now it’s time to trust myself. I’ve acted. Now it’s time to react.

Does your writing process cinch you into a mold or leave you free to follow the whims of your mind? Does it work for you?

*Newton’s third law:

“Every action has equal reaction in the opposite direction.”


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

8 thoughts on “An Individual Approach Despite All the Advice and Non-Advice

  1. I think you’ve hit on something very key, Carol. Once we’ve studied and absorbed all we can, then we have to sort through what works for our unique style and personality. We’re none alike in how we get to the final destination. The journey is unique for each of us! 🙂

  2. I’m a pantser. I can’t even follow a to-do list without getting off course. There’s no way I could ever follow an outline. Whenever I read about someone like me (especially a successful author), I get excited and realize I’m not a total loon.

    But most people who reveal their writing habits seem to have a routine and structure. And index cards and sticky notes. And … Ugh, those chores would take the fun out of it for me.

  3. My writing process is sporadic, disorganized, and overly analytical. I’ve been caught up in learning “the right way” to write to the point it isn’t as much fun as it used to be. I’m not sure I’m a better writer now, either.

    Yesterday my son told me to forget about what other people think and write the way I want. I’m going to give that a try and see what happens.

  4. I think it’s important to give yourself permission to try different methods and allow yourself to change and grow. Sift the advice, take what works, let go what doesn’t. I started out a dedicated, free as the wind pantser, and now I plot extensively in order to be more efficient and meet my goals and deadlines.

    Some days I miss the freewheeling, Jackson Pollock approach to getting a story on the page, but most days, I’m very thankful for my chapter-by-chapter synopsis and plot board. 🙂

  5. “Learn the rules, then do what you want….” I’ve been thinking a fair bit lately about trusting myself as a writer — apparently we’re on the same wavelength. 😉

  6. Thanks, everyone. I’ve come to realize that if we all obediently follow the rules we could be in danger of creating cookie-cutter stories. What makes a certain book stand out is the uniqueness of the storyteller… the power of individuality. I think the importance of voice may be underrated. I’d like to be myself in what I write and how I write it.

  7. Good advice all round – it is great to hear how other people do things, particularly when you are struggling to get going, but sometimes you need to just find your own way and do it the way that works for you.

    1. I’m beginning to realize the truth of that, Cassandra. When we first started writing there was a lot of learning to do, and it helped to hear how others went about it. But as we gain experience we need to be able to apply and adjust the knowledge to suit our needs.

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