Being a productive writer

I hear all the time that if you want to be a writer, you have to write all the time. You can’t just write ‘when you feel like it’ or write when you’re in ‘the right frame of mind’. And I actually started thinking that maybe people were right. But then I realised something.

I write better when I feel like I want to write, when I’m in the right frame of mind. If I sit down to write when I’m not really feeling it, what I end up with is usually all the stuff I scrap at the end. True, if you’re a writer by career then you kind of don’t have a choice; you have to be able to write on demand. But when you’re writing for fun? I don’t think you should pressure yourself into getting things done. It may feel like a pain when you’re still slogging away at your novel after a year, even a couple of years, but at the end of the day, genius takes time. If you want your work to be the best it can possibly be, then it only makes sense that you have put in the time and effort.

Still, it got me thinking. I may not agree that all writers should write all the time, even when they don’t feel like it, but there is an element of truth in that idea. Time you don’t spend writing is kind of a waste. So I’ve come up with a compromise. If I don’t feel like I’m in the right mind frame, I’ll edit what I’ve already written instead. That may seem like the worst compromise to some people, but I actually get a kick out of editing. I think it’s all tied in with my slightly OCD-ish tendencies; I like to have things all neat and straightened out. It makes me feel like everything is in order. I suppose if I psychoanalysed it, editing makes me feel in control of my writing. And in more practical terms, editing as I go is useful because it means I don’t have as much to do when my novel is finally done.

I guess everyone has their own way of doing things because every person is unique. What works for me might not work for you, but I think the point is that no matter what other people say, it’s okay to question it. Ultimately, you can’t write like anyone else, you can only write as you.


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