Time for a little more brutal honesty The third (or second or fourth, depending on how you want to count it, but third officially) lie that we writers tell ourselves is that we each need to just write however works best for us. There are lots of different ways to go about writing, and they're all equally good.
I know I tell myself this all the time, though about a narrower range of things than I used to. As a sentiment, it certainly appeals to our artistic side. It also appeals to that little, "be your own boss," guy or gal that sits on the shoulder of almost every writer who has a straight job to pay the bills. It also just "feels right," because it hearkens back to warm, kindergarten memories of the aunt we loved interceding with the children and saying, "now, now, there's no wrong way to play make believe."
If you're a writer that just likes to put down the words and does not seriously intend on becoming published, then that is probably essentially what you are doing. You're exercising your imagination in the form of words that stay. There's nothing wrong with that, and there is, indeed, no wrong way to do that. If you're trying to become published, hoping to someday become a professional, full-time writer, however, you're doing something else entirely. You are no longer playing believe on the playground. You're doing homework. And there are always right and wrong ways to do homework.
I'm not here to tell you what the right way to write is. I don't quite know, myself. If I did, I would probably be published by now. And that's the trick of it. If we're trying to get published for years and don't make it, if we're in our third year of working on a novel and keep getting stalled out -- then it is silly to shun advice on how to write better because it "doesn't work for us." The system you're using that's getting you unpublished and stalled out? No matter how much you might like it, that system isn't working for you either. So lose the attachment to it, and become more open to other ways to practice the craft of writing.
Some of the areas that I hear myself and other writers invoke the law of, "well, we all need to write in our own way," include:
- Deadlines / Work schedules.
- Effective work environment.
- When to edit.
- and more!
I'm not saying that there's only one way to do these things. I'm sure there are some different approaches based on different learning styles, different patterns of creativity, and so on. What I'm saying is that the appeal to "Well, it's okay, we each have our own way to write and that's just fine," is not the same as saying, "My personality responds negatively to deadlines; I've tried them, and for as long as I can remember they cripple me."
Okay, I know I'm rambling a little because I'm still not fully over a virus I picked over break, so let me try to distill all this into two walking-away points:
1) If you're trying to published and are unsuccessful, or if you're trying to complete a writing project and keep stalling out, then the chances are excellent that how you're writing is not working for you.
2) If you're going to reject advice on a better way to write, try to have a better reason than, "I don't like it," or "It doesn't work for me." Learn enough about yourself to figure out why you don't like it or what it doesn't work, and then decide if that's still valid.
In my case, I rebelled against outlines for years with a passion rarely seen. "They're boring and they constrain the creative process." I also balked at the notion of having deadlines. "Some days you write more, some days you write less." About a hundred unpublished stories and a dozen unfinished novels later, I decided I was full of crap and needed to start trying to write differently.
How's your method workin'?