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  • Writer's picturegirlyengine

Writing Every Day?

I want to preface this with the usual disclaimer that all writing advice is wrong. For every piece of advice I've ever heard (start with action, don't overdescribe, don't have the character wake up in the morning, etc.), there's a bestselling author out there that does the exact opposite.

This is one writer's opinion on a process. There are many opinions and many processes. I recommend finding the one that works for you and perfecting it. I hope this helps you along the way!

The question always goes around: do you have to write every day to be a writer?

This seems a fairly short-sighted question to me because, at its root, it often presumes that "writing" means "putting words on a page." This idea boils writing down to a single act (usually drafting), when in truth, writing encompasses so many stages--brainstorming, drafting, world-building, revising, self-editing--some of them recurring and none of them in any discernible order.

The idea of "writing = word count" is so insidious that many writers even feel they're not progressing unless they reach a certain word count/day. I've caught myself feeling that way and had to check myself. The truth is, if writing was just "putting words on a page," there would be very few writers who could "write" every day.

Our chaotic, daily lives just don't allow for it.

However, if you take a broad view of writing that encompasses brainstorming, daydreaming, outlining, revising, drafting, self-editing, world-building, making Pinterest boards, etc., as writing, then you can easily see how most writers probably do write every day (or at least when in the midst of a project).

Anything that gets you immersed in your world and characters (and their problems) counts as writing. Brainstormed about a tricky ending? Writing. Worked on an outline or wrote 1K today? You're writing. Read a book to dissect technique? WRITING.

These acts count as writing because they foster a connection and familiarity--an immersion--with the world, with the characters, the concepts, the plot. And if you're like me, you need that immersion to tell the story particular to these characters. Otherwise, you'll get caught up telling the reader things about them (likely, as you try to discover who they are)--and that's not the same as telling their story.

The way I approach writing is this: my goal is to connect emotionally with the reader through my characters. To do that, my characters must be real (not necessarily realistic). That is, they must be believable in their emotions, their actions and reactions, their goals, motivations, and conflicts.

For me, the only way to write these characters well is to live in their heads for a bit and to spend time thinking of their points of view as it relates to the story. I must be immersed in them and their struggle. What do they want? Why? Why do they want it? How does this wanting tie into their emotional wound/goal? What they would risk and for what--or who?

I usually spend time putting them into situations and trying out different actions and reactions until I hit upon something that resonates. It's a delicate balance (as these beats must also drive the plot forward), and as you can imagine, this process results in a lot of "wasted" words, but for me, these words help me figure out what the story isn't, and that helps me narrow down what it is.

So the next time you ponder whether you should "write" every day, think about what writing means to you, your process, and your product.



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