Why Write if it isn't Right?

Is there a right or wrong for writing?

Why would we assume that our writing abilities are duplicates of any others? Some of us visualize the stories we write and then describe them on paper from beginning to end. Any changes along the way affect the rest of the story. The story is written without formal guidance. That's writing by the seat of the pants or 'pansters'. However, there are variations of talents that work that way. Some people 'see' scenes out of order and stitch them together later.
Some writers know where they are going in a nebulous way, but the path is twisty and they do not know many details before the story begins.

There are others who do extensive character layouts and determine meaningful intentions into their writing before ever putting fingers to keyboard. Still others write the story in pen and ink leaving the typing for the finishing edit. Many writers place their characters like dolls in a doll house, determining the amount of scenes necessary to tell the story they are crafting. Each scene is crafted with every detail determined to contain special meaning. These are plotters.
There are combinations of plotters and pansters. There are those who've never heard of either.

Writers write in the wee hours of the night or morning. Sometimes they write in the spare time they have on lunch hours and breaks. Others have whole rituals they use to work their magic.

Some writer's feel affection and other emotions for their characters. Some writer's feel in control of their characters. Colorful words and phrases have sprung up to describe writerly things such as internal conflict, external conflict, plot, tension, pacing, turning points, black moment and the happily ever after ending.

One thing is for sure, the writing process that any writer might have may also seem like another writer's process, but it doesn't have to be anywhere near the same. Writers who believe in story arcs and internal changes in characters are just as numerous as those who don't. Writing comes from within us and is as diverse as we are.

The conclusion I've reached to all this writerly mess is that a writer's process is their process. If that means a five mile run before two triple lattes and then arm wrestling a muse, then that's what a writer has to do. If it means getting up at 2:00AM and eating a stack of Oreos first, then that's what a writer has to do. If it means filling up a board or book with pictures, lists, details and then listening only to PDQ Bach while burning red candles, then that's what a writer has to do.

It is ok to be different.

It is ok to be the same.

There is no right or wrong for writing as long as you're writing your way.


Pat Davids said...

You are a writer of truth and wisdom. There is no one way to write. They are all okay. Thanks for putting it in black and white.

Joan Vincent said...

Nina, a wonderful post that any one new to writing should read. It's also good for those of us with miles on the keyboard (and typewriter) to get some affrimation of doint it "our way" process either. No one has a magic formula. Thanks.

Rox Delaney said...

My muse is on permanent vacation. Sometimes she calls in, just to remind me that she's abandoned me. I think I'll give PDQ Bach and those red candles a try. Think it will lure her back?

You said it all, Nina! We all may be writers, but first and foremost, we're individuals, each with our own way of doing things. Sometimes we have to tweak those things or find a new twist to power up the engines when stuck, but it's all in what works best, not because someone else told us it's THE WAY. That's what makes the creative process so nifty, even with a muse on vacation.

Thanks for the reminder! (And the new ideas! ;) )

jel said...

I have away been in AWE of writers,
in beeing able to come up with the story's that y'all do!

sure glad ya do, cause i lov e to read :)

Becky A said...

Thank you Miss Nina,
Again and again and again! Every time you post about having the freedom to write as we see fit, I feel better. I've heard that Kansas is a state of original thinkers, we have a tendancy to do things outside of the box and we have begun a lot of "firsts" in our state. Must be where I get my panster roots. I like to start with a basic idea and then run with it. Adds some mystery and excitement to my day. Speaking of which,I didn't see the "cram five minutes of writing in while the grandkids are playing" scenario on your list. That's my favorite-NOT-but it is the way it is around here. Writing is a creative act and creative acts are hard to control. Ask anyone whose characters have taken off on their own. :)

Nina Sipes said...

I can't speak to truth and wisdom, but you of all people know I've struggled mightily with the 'proper' way to write and the severe lack of logic that writing is and everything that goes along with it. I have treasured your guidance and council.

Nina Sipes said...

Thank you Joan. I've come to believe our blog to be handy to anyone in writing but to those who are on their first steps in writing it it particularly handy. I think it will shortcut a lot of angst if new writers will take a look back through it. We all want to improve our writing and since I've known so little about writing, sometimes I would have been better off chasing soap bubbles than trying some of the 'it has to be done this way' methods. I'd have had a better time too as well as a lot less re-writing to do. I'm a bit more cautious now. To put the waste of time in perspective. Instead of 8 months to write a novel it took me 3 years.

Nina Sipes said...

I'd take a water pistol to that muse of yours. However, while you're waiting to ambush the tart, some uplifting activities are definitely called for.
And thank you for being the powerhouse you've been to get this blog really going. Stick your foot out and trip your muse next time you see her and tell her that if she isn't careful, she can be replaced--with an inspirational calendar. I've seen a couple lately that certainly had me thinking some warm thoughts!

Nina Sipes said...

Thanks for stopping by. Is that a watermelon wearing a hat? It looks like you have plenty of imagination to write a story.
Many of us who began to write did so because we were out of reading material. I was just reading about Stefanie Laurens--that's what got her started, or so I read.
I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season. Come back and see us sometime.

Nina Sipes said...

I thought about giving up writing and then realized it puts a smile on my face and a lilt to my step when I've pulled something off in my story or even if I haven't. It is really hard to know if an avenue you're attempting is really improvement or impediment.

But if you want to know the queen of a few minutes--you have to watch Rox. The things she gets done while working around so much else have me in awe.

Rox Delaney said...

Queen of a few minutes? LOL If you could see my list of 'haven't gotten done,' you wouldn't say that. Holiday decorating? I've thought about it. Christmas shopping? And a ho ho ha ha.

But, hey, we're WOMEN! We were born to multi-task!

Rox Delaney said...

As far as the "proper" way to write goes, I learned something early on. You can break the "rules." But you have to know them to break them. I'm still in the process of learning them, but I have been known to break the ones I do know. ;)

Reese Mobley said...

Great post, Nina. We've all heard the WAY to do it and it's usually not the way we DO it. I appreciate your post so much. Thanks!

jel said...

Nina, that is a "apple squash" in one of my cowboy hats :)

I do most of my talking with pictures, not much with words.

merry CHRISTmas

Nina Sipes said...

What a quick way to say what it took me a whole article to get across! I haven't found any pair of writers who DO it exactly the same way.

Nina Sipes said...

Where is that darned RULE book anyway? How does one learn the RULES so that they have the slightest idea whether they are adhering faithfully or blithely ignorant and not following a one of them?
That's like that research advice. Where does one find the name of the agent who brokered any specific book? How does one get to know the proper publisher for a work? As a reader, I've seen quite a bit of lines blurred a touch. In a Harlequin Intrigue I found a fantasy or that's what I thought someone with 'special' gifts would be categorized as.

I think someone ripped the cover off the rule book and stashed it somewhere not easy to find.

Nina Sipes said...

An apple squash? Besides wearing your hat what do you do with those?

Rox Delaney said...

Nina, it depends on what you're writing and what publisher you're targeting. Rules aren't really "rules," but guidelines that publishers set for writing for them. Okay, there are those grammar rules, and some that are heard aren't true. (You CAN start a sentence with "And" or "But".)

The best way I can think of to learn is to read and find the books you like best...the kind you'd like to write. Check out who it's published by, then check that publisher's guidelines. Visit the author's website or blog! You can often learn about agents there OR sometimes in the dedication or bio or acknowledgements. You just have to play detective sometimes. ;)

Rox Delaney said...

Quite a few agents have websites and blogs. See if the ones you're interested in have them.

Talk to your favorite authors. Contact by email is fine, although I wouldn't start off by asking who their agent is. (grin) This is where conferences come in, too. The more writers you know, the more information you can learn.

There are several intersting articles on eHarlquin for writers. Look on the lower right hand side of the page.
eharlequin writing tips
As for Intrigue's "fantasies", check out the guidelines for the line on eHarlequin. ;) Several of the lines accept something a little different.

jel said...

couldn't tell ya what to do with it
someone give it too me, so i got the idea to put my hat on it,
reminds me of a veggie tale :)

Nina Sipes said...

Hmmm. I wonder how many places it had been in its travels. You're right. It is a veggie tale!

Penny Rader said...

I'm kinda late to the party, but thanks for the insightful post, Nina.

I'm so fascinated by all the different ways writers create. Sometimes I wish I could crawl into a few writers' brains and see the process in action.

Same goes for photographers. :D