What Kind of Writer Are You

What Kind of Writer Are You?

What Kind of Writer are YouHere’s a truth that is both deceptively simple and all too often overlooked: Not all writers are created equal.

In fact, all writers are as unique as their fingerprints.

Just as our stories are (we hope) distinctive, so are our personalities and lifestyles—and, as a result, our working patterns. In pursuit of bettering our craft, we voraciously study the masters by reading every how-to book and author interview we can get our hands on.

But what we sometimes don’t realize is that even if a particular method or routine works for one author, that singular success doesn’t automatically make it a universal principle.

In general, human beings like the protective solidity of “rules.” We like to know that if we write one page every day, five days a week, we’ll finish a book in a year and be published in two.

But life doesn’t work that way.

It may be that writing a page a day is the perfect routine for you, and you will finish that book in a year. But it could also be that the rigidity of such a schedule will keep you from your ultimate productivity. It could be you will work much better if you allow ourselves more flexibility and less pressure.

In The Writer’s December 2010 article “Making time to write,” Cheryl Bolen points out:

Every author’s goals, writing schedule, and methods are different. Some of us can whip out 20 pages a day; others labor to produce five. You need to determine if you work best doing a set number of pages, or hours, or scenes per day or per week. Which kind of writer are you? You must determine how you produce best.

It’s vital all authors discover for themselves what kind of writer they are and which methods work best for them. Just because Margaret Atwood does X and Stephen King does Y is no reason for us to blindly follow suit. Read widely, learn all you can about what works for other authors, and experiment to discover which methods will offer you the best results.

My own writing routine is a continually evolving process. What worked for me five years ago isn’t necessarily what works for me now, and what works for me now isn’t necessarily going to still work for me in another five years.

With every new story I write, I learn a little bit more about myself and the routines that make me most productive. I’m constantly refining my work habits, always listening to my instincts, and paying attention when I feel I’m forcing myself to observe a stricture that just isn’t working.

Individual writers are the only experts into their own proficiency. Never feel as if you have to force your writing habits to mirror other people’s—no matter how successful they may be in their own right.

Find what works for you and stick with it.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What kind of writer are you? What are some tips and tricks you’ve tried from other writers that haven’t worked for you? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. This is a great reminder. Like many writers, I am guilty of trying to mimic writing schedules that work for other authors. I find that doing that gets exhausting and actually interrupts my creativity. It slows my whole process down, even though it should in theory be speeding it up. What I always end up doing instead is writing when it’s right for me and my schedule. I try to do it daily, but if I don’t, or if I don’t produce my goal word count, it’s ok. It’s much easier that way!

  2. Good point!

    Whenever I read how-to’s I see what’s applicable to me and use that information to perfect what I do. Changing things too much just feels like I’d lose me in the process.

    🙂

  3. I must admit that I sometimes fall into the trap of comparing myself to other writers. Ive never been able to pump out dozens of pages at a time. It’s ok to be an individual where writing is concerned – it’s better actually. A good reminder for me.

  4. I write for a living, so I’m always writing, but for my books, it depends on how excited I am… :o)

  5. @Kristin: They say mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery – but in writing fiction we generally find an exception to the rule. It’s much better to borrow rather than mimic, and then strike out on our own.

    @Misha: Exactly. If we changed our process every time we read about another author’s, our writing life would be much too chaotic to get any work done.

    @Jan: Some authors write 30 pages a day; others manage just a paragraph. It’s easy for the latter to feel guilty, but if that’s the the process that works for him, he had no reason to change it, no matter how anyone else does it.

    @LTM: Here’s a perfect example of authors differing. I find I work much better if I discipline myself to write everyday without waiting for excitement. Different spokes for different folks!

  6. This is such great advice. It’s so easy to compare ourselves as writers and decide someone else does it better. I’m glad I found the routine that works for me, but I needed the reminder that it might evolve as life changes. Thanks!

  7. I try to make writing rules for myself but a merely follow them for a few weeks then break out of it. The only thing I keep consistent is writing at night but the days vary.

  8. @Shallee: I tend to be a very set=in-my-ways person, so the reminder that evolution is a good thing is one I need to hear from time to time too. Change is good – as long as we’re doing it from an informed mindset instead of jumping from process to process, just because it’s the latest fad.

    @Cameron: I’m a schedule person. No question that I work best when I have a set routine that I’m able to follow day in and day out. But that doesn’t work for everyone; someone people find it positively stifling!

  9. I write when I am inspired to, which usually means the creation of a new work. I do enjoy my own works when I am reading them but I have come to a new reality in recent weeks. I have gotten a TTS (Test to speech) program and have listened to my works, not so impressed with myself now. I tend to forget since I wrote them I know what they are supposed to say so I skipped words like “of,and,they’re,the” and have now formed a new habit of hearing each chapter, rewrite, hearing, rewrite and then reading. Always and constantly evolving and with each new work comes a revision of an older work. One day I shall be EPIC!

  10. TTS = Text to Speech, not test. Sorry I didn’t catch that when I wrote it.

  11. In the last few years, I’ve started using Adobe Reader’s Read Out Loud feature. It really is handy for catching those typos that we tend to read right over.

  12. Such a great reminder. It’s also good for me to remember that everyone has different goals and different reasons for writing.

    Great post! Thanks!

  13. It can be an unfortunate tendency for us to expect everyone else to fall in line with our own goals – and to belittle those that don’t. It’s important to allow everyone to pursue their dreams in their own way.

  14. Thank goodness we’re all different. Thanks for the perspective. 🙂

  15. Yep! Makes life much more interesting this way.

  16. I am the kind of writer who tries to write everyday. Don’t always succeed though. I like writing schedules, but they have to work around the rest of my life.

  17. Nice reminder, and I’d never thought about my OWN schedule and patterns changing, but they have! And you said it well, that the key is to see what works well for others and experiment to find the best for our own writing.

  18. @storytreasury: That’s what all of us are trying to accomplish – working our writing schedules into our lives. But, because all of our lives are different, all of our writing schedules have to look a little different too.

    @Carol: It’s inevitable that our writing processes change, since we’re constantly changing our life patterns and even, to some small extent, our personalities.

  19. Asking what a writer’s schedule is has to be the most popular question at writer’s conferences. I think its because we hope some of the magic will rub off on us! But you are correct–what works for me (getting up early) probably doesn’t work for the next writer. And thank goodness, or we’d be a very boring bunch.

  20. I believe in experimenting. We can’t always know something won’t work until we give it a try. I gave early morning writing-a go, came up woefully short, and won’t try it again! But at least doing so gave me the permission not to feel guilty when I need to slap the snooze button a second time.

  21. That’s some great advice! -Applies to so much of life…

  22. You really can’t separate writing from the rest of life. It’s all intertwined. If something’s amiss in your writing life, it will affect everything else – and vice versa.

  23. You’re totally right. I tried writing every day because I kept hearing people say that you HAD to do that, but it just didn’t work for me. I prefer to write a lot on my days off rather than write on the days when I come home from work exhausted.

    Great post!!

  24. Whenever I hear somebody say I “have” to do something, I start running in the opposite direction as fast as I can!

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