None of us come with manuals, you have to learn by trial and error and grow through experience to discover what kind of writer you are.

Discovering who you are and how you work best are two of your most important goals as a writer. Learning who you are as a writer will help you to find your voice, and learning how you work best will make you productive. All writers need to do this, and no two writers are ever the same.

Many of you could not write what comes naturally to other writers. A romance novelist might be an awful thriller writer. A mystery jock might write awful poetry. A brilliant historian might gum up a children’s story.

Understanding that all writers are different is an essential step in building your writing confidence. It is also the best guide for sifting through and absorbing writing advice – you are looking for what will work for you, and much of it may not.

You can read as much about how your favorite writers worked, and you should, but realize you are just window-shopping most of the time.

Are you more a Hemingway or a Meyer? Like reading your way through a gorgeous museum, you are taking in impressions, but you don’t take home the actual paintings.

You are your own person with your own lifestyle, priorities, talents, and goals.

Likewise, we all have different writing habits. If yours aren’t working as well as you would like, you might be in the market for an upgrade. This is when reading widely about the ideas and habits of successful writers can elevate you to new heights.

Or it might not.

You might write like no one you’ve ever heard of. You might only write at 4 am when you awake from mid-40s insomnia. For two hours until the sun rises and your head falls back onto the pillow, you might furiously bash word after word into your keyboard in a fit of genius. This is great if it works for you.

You might write pages of first thoughts about a scene, tear them up, and start fresh to actually write the scene.

You might first write notes in a little blue and gold leather bound notebook that Gramma gave you and then go to the computer and flesh out the next chapter.

You are well ahead of the game if you know what inspires and enables you to be the best and most productive writer you can be.

What you, as an informed, open-minded author are looking for, is your thing. Just like you need to develop your own voice, you need to develop your own writing approach.

You may already have found it, and when you see it reflected in the practices of another writer you might feel vindicated (or dismayed you aren’t as unique or eccentric as you thought).

Wow, she abhors adverbs as much as I do! He writes in extremely short sentences, like I do!

It can take a lifetime to learn who you are and how you write best.

You’ll come to understand the things that make you tick and make your writing better over time, but who among us wouldn’t love a short-cut to those eureka moments? None of us come with manuals. Unfortunately we have to learn by trial and error and grow through experience. Reading what works for other people can significantly speed up the process.

While you might have freedom to decide whether you are a morning, noon, evening, or night writer; whether you are an outline maker or seat-of-the-pants writer; whether you are a stylist, a plotter, or a conceptualizer; or whether you love people to read your work as you go along or you keep your manuscript secret until it’s polished; some things are non-negotiable.

Don’t confuse finding your mojo with shirking your duties as a writer. Finding your mojo is a quite different pursuit than learning your craft. Good grammar is one such non-negotiable thing. If you don’t have it, get in with a great copy-editor.

Still, you will have to match the best of breed to your chosen writing focus. Sometime we are alone. Sometimes we have maps provided by others. In looking for your way, there is only one sound piece of advice I can give: Read widely, think widely.

 

Make your own beautiful printed book.

 

Related Posts
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The Opposite Writing Habits Of Famous Authors [Infographic]
10 Perfectly Normal Struggles When Writing A Novel [Infographic]
Completing A Novel: A Look At Various Writing Methods
If You Don’t Pay For Book Editing, It’s Going To Cost You

 

Dawn Field

About Dawn Field

Dawn Field has written 35 posts in this blog.

Dr. Dawn Field is a book lover interested in what makes great writing. After a 20 year career as a research scientist, her first book, Biocode, was published by Oxford University Press. Now a columnist of The Double Helix, Dr. Field is exploring new writing venues and writing a second book. Based in Virginia, Dr. Field is looking to collaborate with a range of fiction writers as a writing coach, editor, and consultant on the publishing process: fiedawn@gmail.com.

12 thoughts on “We all write differently – what kind of writer are you?

  1. Magdalena says:

    What a great post! I read a book about habits creative people usually develop, sometimes before they even realise that, and in some cases they don’t really want to admit that, for some reason. I’d assume for some art and creativity means free spirit, free from any rules and any kind of routine. But repetition and structure, even very vague one, helps us from the beginning: gives the feeling of security and belonging… And yes, I haven’t thought about that before reading your article, but yes, definitely, habits help us be a better writer:)

    1. Hello, storyteller, VLZ here… I listen to the characters inside the story I am telling at the time, moving through narrow pathways into oversized fields of blossoming what ifs, who could, who has, or who would like to. I never thought myself a writer, but I am one hell of a storyteller, telling tales of fiction which may well one day come true, for who knows where fiction and truth stops and starts. All things are possible.

  2. I’m responding as a writing coach and developmental editor of 30 years. It’s hard to undertake a lengthy writing project without a good map – whether an outline, a mindmap, or a spreadsheet (chapters on top, characters on the left). The more you have thought through the details of your story or non-fiction, the faster the writing is going to go. Before you begin, focus on your audience and what they are interested in, and focus on what you want them to experience from reading your piece. Then build your map. Never lose sight of your intention.
    This is not to say that you can’t let the writing unfold in unexpected directions – but steer the unexpected back into the map. If you don’t know how to end the story, chances are you have lost sight of your intention.
    And I concur with Dawn – every writer has to find their own mode of getting the words out. But while you are writing, lock your inner critic out of the room. Just get the words out. You or a professional editor can tame the writing back from its wildness. Delight in the process . . .
    P.S. Don’t struggle with developing the right voice as you start writing. The voice often doesn’t show up until you are a third of the way through the writing. Once you have the voice, it’s easy to edit what was written before you found it. Just focus on bringing words to your intention. Editing is the great rectifier.

  3. Romuald says:

    A well-written and insightful article. Thanks a lot for pointing out the work that writers need to do on their work. I have been a great thriller fan, but no matter how hard I try, I feel that nonfiction comes to me naturally. So, I am re-defining my craft. Many writers start works and find it hard to complete because they are, perhaps, forcing it. This article traces the path for every beginner.

  4. Tasha says:

    I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  5. Andreia says:

    So very true… I am an impulse writer. I begin stories on the fly, at random, at the unlikeliest of places… sadly not a productive thing, but still. I tend to get inspired by the most random things…

  6. Clj says:

    Thanks for the article. I am still ‘young’ at developing my craft. Because I am retired I can write whenever the urge hits me. Or I don’t have to write because I’m trying to meet my self imposed timeline. I find my ‘voice’ easily by becoming the persona of my main character.

  7. Karen Crider says:

    I am a continuous writer. When I am not writing, my brain is. I am largely a poet. Poets see subjects everywhere they look. I edit poetry and pieces of writing, snagged inside my memory even when I am not writing. I push for conciseness and clarity. One lends itself to the other. When I do not write, I go through withdrawal, because the subjects, lines and phrases keep coming, dragging their ideas with them. Ideas that follow me around, pestering me, until I imprison them within the lines of paper. My computer runneth over with writing files, but joy is my reward, found in a well-written piece filled with cadence and relevance. Writing is a gift. If I had to choose between a life without writing, or one with all the luxuries life could give, I would choose writing.

  8. Murray A. Palmer says:

    To be a good poet or writer of any kind, one must know what one’s passion is. Only then can one be truly inspired by one’s subjects. I gain my inspiration mainly from connecting with wild animals and places while photographing them, and letting them simmer in my mind until and while pencil hits paper. I don’t like group restaurant stops with their commotion on outings because my mind is still with the animals. etc. I left behind. Often in the evening I will write a few lines in traditional, rhyming style, then go to bed and let my subconscious mind work on it. Next day I have a good idea of what I want to say in the poem. Sometimes it seems to flow out of me. Other times, because I want to portray the animals as realistically as I can, I have to research various facts of natural history. Most ‘nature poetry’ is not about real animals.

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