It’s difficult not to compare oneself with another writer, particularly someone more successful than you. (And there will always be someone more successful. Veronica Roth isn’t as famous as J.K. Rowling, and while Harry Potter is adored, it isn’t as prestigious as the works of Charles Dickens). So writers tend to examine the habits of others and compare, generally with a critical eye. They see posts on Facebook about writing sprints and count how many words they managed today. They read about the extensive outlines of a New York Times bestselling author and think to redo their own planning. Yet, just like every other profession, what works for person A will not work for person B. (Akin to raising children – better get a big bag of tricks because what works for your first kid will undoubtably fail with the next).
Sure, I could have writing blitzes. I could plot all my novels to the nth degree. I could set a word count goal for each day. But something tells me it wouldn’t work out. I might sit and stare at my computer for four straight hours. I might be confined to a plot structure that isn’t working. Or I could write ten thousand words of pure, unadulterated crap.
Better go with my own style.
What is my writing style? Well, I write in very short bursts that usually last twenty to thirty minutes. If I’m lucky, and a nice flow has hit, I might last forty-five minutes, but that is rare. If it’s a weekend I might write several times a day, with the hours in between utilized to daydream and imagine where the story might go. During the week, I try and write every other night, but honestly, life gets hectic so it doesn’t always happen. After all, I’m a teacher, which comes with a hefty load of take-home work. I also coach, volunteer, pretend to exercise, clean up after my husband, and raise a toddler. When I write, I use my time wisely and efficiently, knowing the moment is precious. My writing style, slots, and technique are vastly different from the majority of writers I know.
Yet, I’ve managed to write four novels in the last five years, because words on a page add up, and when I write in short bursts the quality tends to be better than if I send my kid to a babysitter and force myself to scribe for a full day, despite my mood and patience. So I don’t compare myself to those who manage to compose for hours at a time, uninterrupted and with no breaks. (Doesn’t sitting for that long hurt their backs?) My style is my style and it works – for me.
Besides, Jack Kerouac wrote by candlelight, Dan Brown uses inversion therapy, Virginia Woolf wrote standing up, and Victor Hugo had his valet hide his clothes until he finished a goal… so my need to wear a tiara when I edit is nothing to scoff at, and neither should any of your writing quirks.
Jenna Greene is the author of the Sci-fi/Dystopian novel Reborn. For more information, including Jenna's other novels, click here or the cover!