Some general advice is extremely useful or at least broadly correct. It applies to the majority of people in the majority of cases. You know… like, brush your teeth regularly.
Other general advice is a lot less helpful. It may work for the majority of people, but not for the rest of us.
The general advice on the best way to write is absolutely in that latter category. And as I get asked about this a lot, I thought I’d share some ideas with you.
The right way to write
When I started writing commercially, the general advice at the time was to get into a routine. This routine then became your recipe for writing. It was one less thing to have on your mind, so you were free to focus on your writing. From memory, some of the advice included.
- Having a set time to write each day.
- Writing from a familiar location; your office desk for example.
- Avoid distraction. This one was huge.
- Use the same keyboard, pen, paper, notebook etc.
I lasted about 2 days.
My recipe for writing turned out to be almost the exact opposite. For me, the most creative way to work is to mix things up. Some examples of how I do this includes.
- I write from lots (and lots) of different locations. What Andy Ihnatko calls field offices. These range from my studio, my local coffee shop and Sherwood Forest, to a bench in the grounds of Lincoln Castle and a table on the canal that goes through the village where I live
- I write using different devices. These include an iMac in my studio, my phone, an iPad Pro, a really old MacBook Air (used for the very last time to write this post) and a MacBook Pro.
- I write in the morning before the world wakes up (often). In fairness, that’s when around 60% of all my writing is done. However, I also write at lunchtime (here’s a recent example) and in the late afternoon.
- I write best with background noise. This is why I do so much writing outdoors. Even when I’m in my studio, I have instrumental music playing. I find lyrics distracting.
- I always have a pen with me and a notebook. However, the pen could be one of a dozen or more that I use regularly. The notebook depends on what’s on my production table in the studio, what’s in my back pocket, my bag or my car. I have notebooks everywhere.
My recipe for writing is also wrong
Rest assured: My recipe for writing is just as wrong (for you) as the advice I was given when I started out.
So what’s my point?
I’ve discovered that with any kind of creative work, we each need to find what works best for us. Our unique blend. Sometimes this means ignoring whatever the prevailing wisdom is. Just because something worked for one of those creative professionals selling online courses or books… it may not work for you or me.
If you have a set way to write (or do anything creative) and you’re keen to improve, here’s a suggestion. A general suggestion, which applies to almost as many people as, “brush your teeth”.
Try something new.
Mix it up (just a little).
This is especially the case if you’re struggling to create. It’s possible that a few minor revisions regarding the tools you use, the locations you create from and times of day you create, could improve things.
Good luck with discovering the right way FOR YOU to write. I Really hope you found this useful.