by Amanda Clay
Plotting with a comprehensive outline is the ONLY way to write!
If you plot, you’ll stifle your creativity!
To be successful in the digital marketplace, you have to write a book a month!
You can’t possibly write a good book in under a year!
Have you heard any of this writing advice? Chances are, if you’ve been at this writing game for more than five minutes, you’re no stranger to the well-meaning, often unsolicited, you-must-do-this-to-be-successful advice from other writers and publishing pros.
None of the above statements are wrong exactly…they’re just not necessarily RIGHT. That’s because there is absolutely NOTHING prescriptive when it comes to the creative process of writing.
There is not one ring to rule them all, Frodo, I promise.
Now, I’m not suggesting there aren’t best practices. If a best-seller in your genre swears by a method and you’re still trying to find your groove, then definitely, give it a shot. You have to try things to figure out what works for you.
There are no shortage of books and classes on story structure, plotting, brainstorming, etc. I’ve read countless and each time I might pick up a nugget of advice that I’m eager to try. Sometimes, it’s gold, sometimes it’s a lump of coal.
What you must understand is that just because a process works swimmingly well for one successful person (or for many people), it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. We are complex creatures with various creative styles. Our brains are all wired differently. We have different schedules, different stressors in our lives. If you try to force yourself to adapt someone else’s process, you’re going to fry the wiring. And it won’t take long for you to start questioning your ability as a writer. Why can’t I make it work!!!!???
You can’t make it work because you’re trying to round-peg, square-hole it…
Are you a plotter or a panster??
You’ve no doubt heard that question a million times, right?
Why do you have to be one or the other?
Many, many successful writers (including yours truly) find having an outline to be a necessary part of the process. If I don’t have a small road map, I’m going to wander the desert for years, taking wrong turns, backtracking and having to scrap thousands of rambling words.
But that’s just me. And even then, I sometimes have moments of free-writing that take my story places I never even thought of.
One of my very prolific friends barely outlines more than just knowing who her protagonist is. She’ll sit down at a coffee shop and start jotting down words on a wet napkin and the next thing you know she has a novel climbing the charts. Trust me, I’m envious. But my brain just doesn’t work like that.
Quality or quantity?
During these times of digital and quick-to-market indie publishing, a lot of experts insist that if you want to be successful, you HAVE to publish ten books a year. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the curve!
I know a number of successful writers doing this, it’s true. I think it’s incredible. I envy their output.
I tried to do it and fell on my face. I wrote and published so quickly that I burnt out. I fried my brain wiring. So much so that it took me months to bounce back to my normal writing routine. I literally left the country for a month to regroup. Phew, lesson learned there.
Are my uber prolific friends wrong to publish at breakneck speeds? Not if it works for them! Is there something wrong with me that I can’t keep up? Of course not! It’s just not my style. I can write pretty quickly, but I really need to take my time to edit slowly.
But you can’t POSSIBLY write a good book that fast!
In this business, good is subjective. Are those writing a book a month going to win a Pulitzer and earn literary accolades? Mmm, maybe not (you never know). But they sell gagillions of books and own the charts in their niches and swim nekked in their royalties.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to crank out the stories for a hungry audience.
But hey, there’s also nothing wrong with taking ten years to write that masterpiece book of your heart.
It’s all about YOUR personal goals.
What I want you to realize is that there are ALL kinds of writers out there.
So don’t let anyone else tell you there’s one right way to do something.
The only thing you MUST do, my friend, is find your groove and own it.
Amanda J. Clay is the Amazon charts best-selling author of twenty books of romance, mystery and suspense. You can find her at amandajclay.com, Facebook (@amandajclay) or Instagram (@amandajclaybooks). Or feel free to drop her a note at [email protected]