Man, it is really interesting, yet not surprising, how different we all are when it comes to how we wrote. I just read about a guy who literally sets his alarm for 4am, wakes up in the dark and doesn’t turn on a light, puts his computer on his lap making sure his monitor is a black screen, writes for a few hours, goes back to bed, and then wakes back up at 8:30am to edit what he wrote. I couldn’t imagine doing all that. As it is, I’m not a morning person. The night hours are when I shine. But it sure is a unique way of doing things.
For me, I need quiet. No TV. No radio. No iPod. Nothing that makes noise. I’ve never tried instrumental music, so I might try it some day. For whatever reason this is what works for me.
I don’t have a particular time of day that works best either. However, I love doing my initial writing with college ruled binder paper and my PhD .7mm lead mechanical pencil. I realize this is an old school method of writing, and the arguments in how I waste time doing it this way instead of just typing everything into the computer to begin with make sense, but I’ve tried writing directly into the computer. Some how all my scenes and chapters became shorter.
When I write on paper, I just write. I rarely edit as it’s not as easy to change or move things around. I’m able to edit it as I type it into the computer. My thought processes work better this way. Something I’ve heard over and over is you have to do what works for you. Don’t worry about what someone else does. If you want to be successful you have to do whatever it is that works best for your way of thinking and doing. It reminds me of the old saying my mom would say to me as a child. “If your friends jump off a bridge, are you gonna do it too?” And I’d say, “No.” She’d say, “Exactly. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should follow suit.”
To edit my work, I print off the chapter or scene I’m working on. I read through it first, making any edits I see as I’m going along. Then I take all the critiques I’ve received from my critique partners and see what needs to be changed by their suggestions. Now, I don’t always agree with everything that’s suggested, but most of the time they bring up some really great points I feel improves what I’ve written that much more. Plus, I feel if someone has taken the time to critique my work, I’m incredibly grateful. I need to take a serious look at what every one of them have said. Other wise why have them do it to begin with.
To be honest, I love it when someone has marks all over the place as this means they’ve really taken the time to read what I’ve written. My hope is that someday I’ll start to receive critiques back with fewer and fewer marks as this means I’m understanding how to write fiction better.
After I have gone through and done all my edits, I enter them into the computer, print the chapter off, and read it out loud. This is where I really find things that need to be fixed. I repeat the process at least one more time and then I move onto the next chapter.