Writing Wednesday: Intro

My first advice to you as we embark upon our series of Writing Wednesdays? Ignore advice.

When I say ignore, I don’t mean stick your fingers in your ears and hum. But do take anything that I or anyone else says with a grain of salt. There are entire industries out there devoted to telling you how to write. Some of the advice will be useful. Some will be horrendous. It’s up to you to pick and choose.

Every writer has her own rhythms and patterns. Lytton Strachey preferred to write in the bathtub. Thomas Wolfe (no, not that one, the other one) apparently wrote Look Homeward, Angel while balancing his manuscript on the top of a refrigerator. Either he was a very tall man or it was a very short refrigerator. I tend to eat a lot of peanut butter from the jar. (Chunky only, please.) Some writers work best in the mornings, others in the evenings. Some can write in snippets while standing in the grocery line; others need a week of Quiet Time. As long as the story gets told, there’s no right or wrong as to how you go about doing it.

Be aware of your own habits and rhythms. Take note of how you work most effectively. Don’t try to work against the grain because someone says “but you MUST…”; you’ll only make yourself nuts. Yes, that might work for her, but it doesn’t mean it will work for you. Some authors make beautiful and elaborate collages while plotting their books. The only thing making a collage would make me would be annoyed. I spend a lot of time scribbling long-hand notes on large sheets of paper that I then never look at again. Does it make any sense as a technique? Probably not. Does it work for me? Yes.

This applies to a whole variety of subtopics: when you write, where you write, how fast you write, whether or not you outline, how you outline.

For better or worse, writing is a process of trial and error. No matter what anyone claims, no one can give you a foolproof blueprint for How To Write a Book– because that book wouldn’t be your book.

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting about character development, dialogue, pacing, time management, and other fun stuff. Always bear in mind that nothing I say is a hard and fast rule; it’s more, as they say in Pirates of the Caribbean, guidelines. (Did you hear Geoffrey Rush in your head as you read that? Excellent.)

If there are any topics you’d like me to address, just let me know!


  1. Ammy Belle on May 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Excellent idea! Thanks so much for this.

    I myself am one of those writers who writes a lot in a spurt of creativity, then nothing for a while, then low and behold – again! More words!
    Followed by tonnes of revisions …


  2. Céline on May 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Phew, and there I thought that I was doing it all wrong, not following exactly all I’ve read about writing a book! I started doing it all backward, and after having made a few (*coughs*) mistakes, and after questionning the way I was doing things, I’m finally starting to find my own rythm…
    Thanks a lot. Because even if you explain how we’re allowed not to follow any specific advice, your input on writing fiction will be so useful and precious for all of us aspiring writers!

  3. Kristy on May 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. It is nice to know that there isn’t one to write a book. I am finally taking the plunge and beginning my novel this summer. I am excited and scared at the same time. Reading this has just alleviated a lot pressure. I look forward to future Writing Wednesdays.

  4. 4amWriter on May 17, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Wholeheartedly agree. I, as is obvious from my username, do my best writing early in the morning while the birds are singing. Not a time for everyone, but the idea is the same for everyone. Where you have to really go through trial and error before you can find what works best for you.

    Can’t wait to read what you have next time!

  5. Shannon M. Howell on May 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    One of my readers asked me to say, “Thank you,” for her.

    So, thank you. 🙂

  6. Jane B. on May 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm


    Refrigerators used to be shorter. I remember having a cute little fridge not much taller than my own height of 5’3″. It also had a v petite freezer–you pretty much had to choose between having ice cubes and having frozen veg. Large tubs of ice cream didn’t fit, which may have been a good thing.

    I look forward to writing Wednesdays! I’ve actually completed two novels, one of which is published. Knowing that I can do it helps some, but right at the moment I’m wondering how I did do it.

  7. Tracie on May 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I am always fascinated to read about the creative processes of other writers. It is so true that there is no right or wrong way to write. I am completely baffled by the whole concept of outlines. They would never work for me and yet I have author friends who swear by them. I’m also baffled (and amazed!) by writers who do all their work late at night because my brain shuts off at 5PM.

    Lauren, I totally relate to you writing out notes by longhand. That’s the first thing I do when I start a new writing project. I get out my trusty yellow legal pad and write pages and pages of character profiles including physical description, career, friends, life goals, relationship history, likes, dislikes, education, etc. Half of that stuff will never make it into the book, but it still informs how I write the character.

    I’m really looking forward to more Writing Wednesdays! 🙂

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