I bought a new writing book yesterday. I know, I know, I have an entire shelf of writing books, but there is always room for more!
This one is different from anything I've ever owned, though. It's called The Write Type: Discover Your True Writer's Identity and Create a Customized Writing Plan by Karen E. Peterson, PhD.
Now when I first picked it up, I thought, oh no, another one of those "follow these rules and you'll be a bestselling novelist!" writing books. But no. The first page of the first chapter instantly captured my attention and whisked away that first assumption.
At a book signing, a woman says to the author, "I started writing every day, like you're supposed to, but I couldn't stick with is so I stopped writing. I guess I'm just not a writer." And then later, another person tells her, "I started writing first thing in the morning, like you're supposed to, but I couldn't keep it up so I stopped. I'm not really a writer."
I could definitely identify with the second one. I am not a morning person, period. I cannot get up at 5 a.m. and write for two hours, then get the kids ready for school and go to work. I. Can't. Do. It. Now if you tell me to write at 10 p.m. after everyone is in bed and the house is quiet and it's just me and my kitties, oh, I'm there. Definitely. Can. DO.
What works for one person doesn't work for another. And sometimes we sabotage ourselves by thinking that if we don't do it the way XYZ author does it (who is now a bestselling author), then we are not real writers, are not dedicated or committed enough, and will never be successful. But that's simply not true.
This book is a mixture of psychology and writing, which is why I find it so fascinating. Peterson has several small exercises to help you figure out which "type" of writer you are. For example, in throughout the book, she asks you to answer questions with first your dominant hand (if you're a lefty or righty) and then with your non-dominant hand. This is to help separate the left side (logic) of your brain from the right side (creative). The results can be quite fascinating.
I'm only beginning to scratch the surface of this book, but I think it will help me move past the whole "should" committee. For instance, "I 'should' write for two hours every day" or "I 'should' use my lunch hour at work to write." are some of the 'shoulds' I struggle with. I may only write an hour one day, and three hours the next. And writing on my lunch break is hard because for me, I have to downshift from "day-job work" to "my" work. It's not that easy for me.
Maybe I should have this whole writing routine, how-I-write business figured out by now. After all, I've written two novels and am working on my third. But I don't have it figured out. I think I tend to get frustrated and fit my "square peg" writing routine into a "round" hole just because there is so much writing advice out there. Bottom line - you have to do what works for you. Maybe what you're doing isn't working for you. And I'd fit myself into that particular category. I don't think I'm focused enough right now, and it would be interesting to open the door into the psychological aspects of why.
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