As evidenced by Elizabeth’s last post, she and I have processes on the opposite ends of the spectrum. She is quite linear in her thinking; I’m, well, not as much. She likes structure and order and (for the love of God) outlines. I’ve tried outlining; I can make one without a problem, but using it is something else entirely. Elizabeth uses Scrivner and all its many tools to help keep details straight. My method of organization is twenty post-it notes stuck inside a notebook filled with notes. We’ve laughed about our differences a lot over the past few years.
So who’s right?
Both. Or neither. Take your pick.
Here’s the thing. The creative process is different for everyone. Some outline the heck out of a novel and make detailed character sheets before ever typing “Chapter One.” Some say, “huh. I have this idea. Let’s see what happens when I write it down,” and off they go. Some do a combination of the two. Some write 1K a day every day without fail; others do binge-writing weekends. Some make a dozen drafts; others do two or three. It doesn’t matter. You know what does? Writing. Finishing what you write. Submitting what you’ve written. Starting over. The best advice I could give any writer is this: figure out what your process is, and once you’ve found it, respect it. Plan for it, work with it, adjust for it. Don’t listen to anyone else. Respect your process.
Well, okay. Maybe there is one way to write: the way that lets you finish.