What kind of writer variety are you?

27 Aug

No, this is NOT about genre, it’s about HOW you write. There are probably as many styles of writing as there are writers, but – I’ll bet that most of the more successful writers are one of these types. Do you — ?

Write fast, don’t re-read, don’t edit until it’s done. THEN, sit down with the entire thing, and have at it with machete or whatever other sharp instrument is handy!  This style is typical of the person who has an idea, and if it isn’t captured immediately, might lose it in the trivia of everyday living.

Write fast occasionally, or sometimes slower, lightly re-read and fix the day or week’s work, then get on to the next segment. Every now and then, maybe once a month or so, print it all out, read/edit the (new) work to that point, make the corrections, and get on to the next chapters. Repeat as needed until the work is done, and you think it’s ready for prime time.

Write slowly, with the occasional burst of speed from an instant inspiration. Eventually, you’ll have enough to take up an evening’s reading, marking changes, etc., as you go.

Write really slowly, polishing each word as it gets put on paper, or screen, and not moving on to the next one, until you’re 100% positive this latest word and all the others that preceded it are totally perfect!

All of these are acceptable methods. They just may not be YOUR acceptable method. You need to do what’s right (my first time around that was spelled write!) for you. But you must be willing to accept that you may never get through a book, if you can’t let go of it, and move on.

A famous writer once told a group of us at a writer’s conference, about another conference she’d once attended. A woman approached her and asked how this writer could be so prolific. (Her middle name should have been Prolific, believe me!) A discussion ensued about the style of writing. Ms. Prolific said she never re-read anything until the book was done – two months or so – and then gave it a careful going over, making any needed changes or corrections, and then sent it off to her editor. It was, of course, accepted, but by this time she was already well into the next book!

Personally, I doubt this lady would ever have considered the possibility of ‘writer’s block’ but her imagination was capable of keeping up with her writing skills and speed, so all was well.

However, the woman who had approached her explained her own style. Every night, she’d read what she’d written. and edit it thoroughly. The next night the same thing, only of course, she’d have to first re-read the previous night’s edits to be sure she’d kept everything straight. Ms. Prolific asked if this was her first book, and the answer was yes. The next question was ‘how long have you been working on it?’  The answer blew everyone away. ‘A couple of years.’  And how far into the book are you?’  ‘Not quite half way. I just started Chapter Eight.’ Ms. Prolific was virtually speechless.

A great friend of mine is the NEW Ms. Prolific – she  wrote 3 [THREE] books of 120,000 words in the first six months of this year. They’re all on a publishing schedule for next year. Her method is yet another variety – one that I cannot even begin to comprehend, but hey! It works for her, so why not! She writes historical fiction, and does immense research before she ever puts finger to keyboard. When she is finally totally engrossed in her time frame and characters, she sits down and begins typing. From there until the end, it’s a whirlwind of activity, during which time she NEVER reads any of her work (Warning: Do not try this at home!) until she reaches the end. Then, she reads carefully, maybe even twice, before entering the edits into the computer version. Sometimes, it’s a major overhaul.  After that, however, it’s off to the editor.

Considering that she’s up to 80+ published titles, this system certainly works for her. One caveat, she says. As she’s writing new content, if something jostles her, she’ll go back to wherever it was earlier in the WIP, (thanks much to FIND) highlight it in yellow and maybe write a paragraph to identify what needs to be fixed, then, she ‘dashes’ (her word) back to where she was and keeps right on going.  I don’t understand how, but I do know it works!

I had a friend who was a marvelous editor, who confessed to me one day that she had several book-length manuscripts in her desk. “Have you ever sent any of them out to an editor?” I asked, in my naïveté.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed. “I couldn’t do that!”

“And why not,” I asked.

“They might want to change something, and I could never let that happen!”

I picked my chin up off the floor and said, “But don’t you want to see your words in print?”

“No. Not if they’d want to make any changes. I like them all the way they are, and no one is going to change even one word of them.”


Needless to say, while she was an excellent editor, her writing credits were invisible! I don’t know if there is any correlation or not, but her dog was the most ill-mannered, stupid creature I’ve ever encountered. The word ‘no’ was simply not part of the dog’s vocabulary. Once, in a frenzy of barking at something out of doors, the foot-tall dog went through a glass storm door, all the while my friend was screaming “No, NO!!! Stop that! ” from the other side of the room.  She might as well have been talking to the wall. Nothing changed, either, when the dog came home from the hospital.

Onwards, right?

Do you have questions about writing a book, or how to get started? Ask me! I might have an answer or two.  Cheers!


One Response to “What kind of writer variety are you?”

  1. Thor August 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Always fun to read your stuff! I wished you live close enough to bounce ideas around with.

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