Shockingly, though you are probably coming here thinking this is a title I’m going to disagree with, I actually think it can be true. I totally believe there is a ‘right way to write’.
It’s just that the ‘right way to write’ is whatever suits you at any given time.
I asked this week how all of you write, and the response was as varied and wonderful as I could have hoped for. Some write anywhere, others on the sofa, some exclusively by hand and some exclusively typing – one even writes alone in the dark.
You can read a thousand suggestions about how you ‘ought’ to be writing on the internet, and these suggestions aren’t entirely without merit. The key is to read them not as gospel, but as ideas. Springboards from which you can work out your own way of writing – try out new things, or feel confident in your existing choices.
So here are the ways that I write. Maybe they’ll help you figure things out for yourself!
I write in Google Docs. I have done since I started using my Google Drive many years ago now, and I now can’t imagine writing any other way. It is great for me for several reasons.
One, I don’t have to have a stupidly expensive copy of Microsoft Office – or struggle with the sometimes-not-brilliant UI of Open Office. Google Docs is nice, clean, easy to use and mostly intuitive.
Two, it cloud stores and backs up for me instantly if I’m working online. I very rarely work offline, but even if I do it will back up as soon as I connect to the internet again (which usually isn’t long). I don’t have to worry about losing things. I don’t have to worry about manually backing up. It’s all done.
Three, cloud storing means that I can write and edit from multiple devices without it being a headache. It’s just there. Granted, it takes several minutes to load a novel draft, because it’s so long – but it’s not slow, either.
Google Docs is also fantastic when working on things collaboratively because it’s all shared. You always know you have an up-to-date copy of whatever you’re working on together, and you can share whole folders if you want.
I don’t really write by hand at all. Occasionally if I’m desperate to get an idea down and all I’ve got near me is a notebook I might, but most of the time I’ll get to a computer.
I take notes in Evernote. I’ve tried Scrivener, Bibisco and other similar ‘novel writing programs’. They don’t work for me. I like being able to see all my notes about a character in one page; I don’t want to have to flip through question after question. I just want a page that has the info.
I often think of ideas in really awkward places, like when I’m walking to do the food shopping or when I’m in the process of falling asleep. Writing everything in Evernote means that I can always add to things, as long as I’ve got my phone near me. This way, I never miss an idea.
When I first started using Evernote a few years ago, I read the best piece of advice for it: jump in headfirst. Use it for everything. I did, and I genuinely believe that is what made me stick with it. I immediately saw how useful it was and how much it could help me organise my life.
I mostly write in my office and in bed. Some days, I can’t manage getting out of bed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t manage doing anything. On those days, I use my laptop and do my normal work day from bed. Usually this means that I’m out of it by noon at the latest, plus I have three hours of work under my belt so I feel pretty good.
My normal place of writing is in our home office. My fiancé works from home some of the week, I work from home full time, and we are also both massive computer gaming nerds. So the office was something we prioritised sorting when we moved into our current house. Having my own (large) desk, multiple monitors and a nice space really does help me.
However, I do have to keep the room nice to help my brain. I personally find it hard to write in messy rooms. This is a problem since I’m not a tremendously tidy person; I have to work hard to maintain a house that caters to my mental health. Because if I’m in a messy room, I get anxious. I can’t help but see all the things I haven’t done made manifest – like I’m surrounded by my own failures. So I keep the study (or at the very least, my desk) as tidy as I can.
These are just a few of the ways that I write – I hope it’s useful to you to get new ideas, or see that you’re not alone. Thank you everyone who answered my question about how you write!
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