Crafting Your Writing Life Part III: Process

May 30, 2007

As you develop your craft, you will notice that you’re also developing a “process.”

There’s a lot of talk about process, and a sense, among some writers, that too much emphasis is put on the process and not enough is placed on the quality of the work. I agree that some writers are self-indulgent along those lines, but, for the most part, I think a strong process not only shores up the work, but makes the journey from inspiration to publication much more pleasant.

Discover the conditions that support your best writing. Do you like solitude or music? Do you need a cabin in the woods or a table in an urban café? Do you blank-page (also called “pantsing”) or do you outline? Do you mix the two? Is there a ritual at the beginning and end of every writing session that helps you mentally and physically prepare for the task at hand?

The only way to discover your process is through trial and error, as you hone your craft. You’ll find out what works and does not work for you, and then you have a springboard for the next project.

However, once you’ve built your process, you have to make sure you don’t trap yourself within it. There’s not a single way to write, and every project insists on at least a partial re-invention of the wheel. I’ve watched writers develop a process and then, if there’s any deviation – well, what a good excuse not to write!

If you plan to make this your career, “can’t” is not an option.

Your process, even when it’s mutable, needs to support the ultimate outcome of your writing: a strong, well-told story that captures its readers.

–Devon Ellington


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