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Shaking up the writing routine

posted in: Writing Craft | 1
By: Jason Rogers
By: Jason Rogers

I’m usually what’s called a pantser (someone who just sits down and writes with no idea of where the story will go). When I decided to write a novel for NaNo last month, I realized there were a lot of problems with that method for me. One, I usually have zero idea of what I am going to write. This leads me to spend the first week of the challenge pouring over writing prompts to see what might come to me. I then end up having nothing done for the first week and get stuck a lot, so it’s a struggle to keep up. Worse yet, I usually end up finishing the story well before 50K and have to find something else to write to complete the challenge.

This year, I decided I was going to come in prepared. I got an idea after seeing a commercial and sat down to write an outline. It was a scary, yet liberating experience for me to try doing something outside of my norm. And you know what? It worked. I ended up having enough material in my outline to have a full novel and I was never stuck struggling for what to do with the story.

It was a similar experience when I tried handwriting. I prefer typing and did it almost exclusively until this year. I decided to try writing a couple of shorts by hand and liked the process. I don’t think I’ll do it for a full novel (the idea of typing up a hundred some pages makes me weep), but it was nice to do for shorter stuff to stretch myself a little. I’ve also been writing in different places every so often, which helps to get my muse going,

Another way I shook things up was with my editing process. As I mentioned, I pretty much type everything. Doing so usually means that I edit on the computer as well (track changes is incredible, by the way). Recently, I printed out a couple of works and tackled editing the old-fashioned way: with what I call a red pen of doom  This was another great experience because I found I was able to catch things I might have missed on the screen, especially when my eyes are burning and begging for mercy.

As you can see from this, changing things up was a huge help in my process so if you’re struggling at the moment I would like to issue a challenge. If you’re a pantser like me and are struggling with getting a book off the ground, try outlining a piece. If you usually type and edit on a computer, do a short piece with pen and paper. If you usually work at home, head out to a library or coffee shop and see how it helps spark your own muse. You might even try dabbling in a genre you don’t usually write. Whatever you do, have fun with it!

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Jamie White is a music addict, book lover, pet servant & NaNoWriMo survivor. When she’s not busy writing posts for CultureShock, she’s taking pictures for her photo blog and spending time with her husband and pets. She released Stains on the Soul and Clutter via Pagan Writers Press in 2013.

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One Response

  1. Ed Ireland
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    I’m wondering where I fit in. I usually have a general idea of what I want to write, but the actual story comes as I go along. I’m not sure if this falls into the pantser category. Once I get going, the story flow is fairly good and I get my goal of a chapter a day…unless the chaos around me gets too busy.
    But I need to know what type of writer I actually am. If not a pantser, maybe a variation of it. Like a short-pantser or maybe a sweat-pantser. I need help to find my place!!!

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