I’m fascinated by other writers’ processes: how, where, when, what they write. I don’t know that every single writer has a unique way of doing things, after all, what we’re actually doing is sitting at a machine, keying in, and there are, surely, only so many ways to skin a cat.
I’m also fascinated by what makes a successful writer and whether process has anything to do with that. Is it possible to plot a graph that shows the optimum in work-related habits? I doubt it. Writers are people, and creative people, at that, so it’s hard to see where maths has anything to do with it. I wish it did, though. I wish there was a formula for doing well at this game.
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” - Sam Goldwyn
It has to be true, doesn’t it? I’ve never met a lazy, successful person.
When asked about writing, and it might surprise you to know that I am asked, regularly, about writing, despite my meagre output of published work, to date... When I’m asked about writing, I have a set of answers ready, but they aren’t mine. I give advice that I don’t follow, knowing full-well that it is very sound, logical advice, and that it should work.
I tell people who ask about writing that they should read a lot and write a lot. I tell them that they should try to write something every day. I have never, ever done this. I’ve always been a reader, but since finishing my English degree, I have only ever read intermittently. I can literally go months without reading a book. I can also read half-a-dozen books in a week, when I’m in the mood.
Writing is the same. It took me a long time to begin to write, but once I had begun, I tackled the job relentlessly, but intermittently. I’ve written five books in three years, which is pretty good going, by anybody’s standards, but the actual writing was crammed into a few scant months of that time.
Part of me wishes that I could write five hundred or a thousand words a day, every day, for three months or six months, and then spend another six months revising. Part of me wishes that I was the sort of person who could happily spend two or three hours a day researching a project over several months before beginning. I just can’t do it.
I wonder if it’s too late to learn to do it. I’d dearly love to make a success of writing; I’m just a little fearful that I’m going about it all the wrong way. Maybe my ‘shit or bust’ instinct just isn’t the way to go.
Right now, it’s all I have, so I’m going with it. That won’t stop me giving good advice though, especially when it isn’t my own.