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Michele Dunaway | What works for meÖ

Might not work for you. Itís a concept Iíve been mulling lately as I get ready to teach another year of school, where I have to individualize learning to best reach all my students. I was thinking about this concept as I read an article in a writing magazine that said, ďwrite every day, even if itís for 20 minutesĒ and also gave other such advice as ďkeep a journalĒ.

Itís great advice, sure. But I donít do either and Iím a published author of 21 novels. I write in big spurts, and then will go weeks and sometimes months without writing a thing. That ď20 minutesĒ the author advises is spent doing all those things I didnít do during that intense focus on writing.

But thatís me. My big on and off spurts are how I balance and prioritize my time, and thatís what Iíve learned works best for my life. During the school year my priority is on my family and my teaching job. Writing is third. Over the summer, I can easily make writing number two and devote 40+ hours a week to my craft.

To me, writing is like dieting. For some, Jenny Craig works. For others, itís South Beach. For someone else itís Weight Watchers. Others are naturally skinny and donít need to do a darn thing. The same holds true for writing. There are plotsters, pantsters, and there are those who create scrapbooks, those who make scrapbooks, those who interview their characters, those who enter contests, those who sell the first timeÖthe list goes on. Everyone is different, which is logical. As each writer should have a unique, individual voice, each writer will have his or her own individual writing style and system, that, through trial and error works for him or her.

This system, or process, is personal. I see too many writers get bogged down in the ďhowĒ they should be writing and trying to follow some system or formula and thus they lose the actual writing. If something isnít working after a few tries, perhaps it isnít for you. Just because it works for NYT best selling author or your critique partner doesnít mean that the approach is perfect for everyone. I know writers who get up at 4 AM to create before their family wakes. Iíd die if I had to get up at 4 AM. When my alarm goes off at 5:25 for work, itís too soon. I know writers who run every chapter by a critique partner, and there are many writers like me who do that only on rare occasions.

Donít be afraid to do some personal assessing and figure out what works best for you. Try new things and techniques, but donít lose faith in your abilities or talent if they fail to work. Remember, what works for one person doesnít mean it will work for everyone. So reassess and find something new. Writing should be a happy timeóa creative and pleasurable escape into your mind. So just like trusting your own inner voice with your story, donít be afraid to take advice, but donít be afraid to trust your gut if it tells you that advice isnít for you. After all, just as itís your story, itís your process. There is no one writing process answer for everyone except for passion, persistence and putting your fingers to the keys.




5 comments posted.

Re: Michele Dunaway | What works for meÖ

I enjoyed working on The Artist's Way By Julie Cameron years ago for writer's block. Well, I didn't have a block, but the exercises and stories of field trips were fun. I have pen and paper available everywhere, so when the muse strikes, I'm prepared. Learning how others get their stories out helps me choose which process to borrow for my own. The key to writing is to write it down.
(Alyson Widen 1:16pm August 3, 2009)

I've yet to find "what works" for me. Writing seems to be more spur of the moment and I am only able to write as the urge strikes.
(LuAnn Morgan 2:13pm August 3, 2009)

Your advice to the writer to "figure out what works best for you" should be a sticky note on the keyboard. Thanks for the reminder. I needed it.
(Barbara Scott 3:14pm August 3, 2009)

I just finished reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and found that by hit or miss, I'd come around to writing as he suggests in his book. Wish it hadn't take me quite so long to figure it out, but now I'm hoping I'll get a bit speedier.
(Kathryn Albright 6:35pm August 3, 2009)

Similar to the way you try to individualize the information for your students writers have different learning and writing styles and shouldn't be forced to all use the same method. How is that for one 'short' sentence? :>)
(Karin Tillotson 8:51pm August 3, 2009)

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