Friday, May 10, 2013

Writing Methods Pros & Cons

In my endeavor to become a writer, I have been doing a lot of research on what works for established and successful authors. In this post I will compare the pros and cons of conflicting methods in the hopes that it gives me some sort of idea for my own writing.

1. Having a set writing atmosphere: having just the right amount of light, the right type of music (or no music at all, maybe just white noise), a clear desk or comfy couch, drinks within arm's reach, your hair secured in a certain way, etc.
  • Pros: Having a set atmosphere can put you in the writing zone, you may begin to associate that particular set-up with writing time and have more confidence in your writing. 
  • Cons: It may take some time to actually set up your writing environment. By the time you light the candle, find your writing hat, clean the room, and spend five minutes on Facebook (as part of your routine, of course) you could have pumped out 500 words! Also, always writing in that same environment may cost you; you may grow to rely on that exact environment to be able to write. What if you lose that hat, or what if your internet isn't working, will you be able to write? Will it put you in a funk?
2. Outlining your book.
  • Pros: The pros to this one are obvious. You begin the first draft with a clear idea of where you're starting, where you're ending, and the steps you are taking to get from beginning to end. It is much easier to sit down and write when you already what it is you're going to write about. It also helps to think from a broader perspective right off the bat, so you're not in the situation (a situation I have found myself in recently), of "I'm 2/3 of the way through my story, and I just realized I haven't addressed the curve ball that I put in Chapter 1 and have no current plans to do so."
  • Cons: You may be stunting your creativity. You already know what you're going to write, right? You don't have to get creative every day to figure out how your character is going to escape that haunted house, or get out of that abusive relationship, you've already figured it out! There have been several instances for me when I think of (what I think at the time is) a great idea that I had no notion of before that very moment when I was brainstorming. I'm not saying no one brainstorms after outlining, but if you have a very thorough outline, are you really going to spend a whole lot of quality writing time on brainstorming ideas that you've already come up with?
3. Research (for fiction, there are really not a whole lot of cons for non-fiction writing, I presume)
  • Pros: You have accurate information that readers can trust, you will have a reputation of legitimacy. Your writing is informative as well as entertaining.
  • Cons: Often, it is a waste of time. For example, I am writing a story that takes place on a Hawaiian island. First I had to pick an island with a small enough population for the community I was describing. When my character was walking around the island I spent time researching what sort of terrain the island had, sandy, rock, etc. I researched how many miles the perimeter was, and then I realized -- no one cares. Who is really going to look this up to make sure I'm right? And even if someone did, so what? It's fiction! It's my book, and I can write about whatever the hell I want, true or not!
This is the point of my book I'm in now, I'm sure I'll have more methods as my writing and research prevail.

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