Discuss: Writing Process and Regiment

There’s an idea floating around out there in the literary community that suggests a strict, x number of words milestone per day to qualify one as a real writer. I’ve talked before about my indifference to structure; if some preparation or plan works for you I figure there’s no reason to call in the chaos. But maybe this advice isn’t appropriate. Maybe there is room for a writer to change his or her habits even if the current writing process and regiment appear to work just fine.

The question to ask oneself: Are my current methods actually working?

More often than not, the writing process seems to be a part of the writerly ego. Our art, our craft, is not just defined by the product but by the transformation a single piece of writing has undergone to become what it is. We hold onto the methods that have produced good work. In my case, I often hold onto obscure methods that allowed me to produce any work at all. At times, I found myself hung up on the fact that I’d finally acquired a writing space. Rather than analyzing the functionality of that space and its affect on my stories, I fixated on what was there and not what was being done.

Source: Cactusowa-DeviantArt
Source: Cactusowa-DeviantArt

It took awhile for me to realize that yes, I had a writing space but no, it was not helping me write better. My simple writing space had a bedroom desk with a tall hutch with ample space for books notebooks. But seeing as I’d had this desk since I was nearly twelve, the legs were short and the surface was tiny. I had no room to fit my legs beneath my desk without grazing the tops of my thighs; i gave up trying to squeeze the arms of my executive desk chair underneath. My work at the desk was sporadic at best. I turned to my bed, the couch, the top of a short file cabinet, and the kitchen counter for writing. The inconsistency was maddening, although I wasn’t ready to realize it.

In addition to space, my regiment was off. I worked and took classes at strange hours, tackled homework whenever the mood hit me (procrastination abound), and found myself sitting down to write at the odd moments in between. Did the inconsistent process and regiment affect my prose? Possibly, although I haven’t strayed from these methods long enough to notice a difference.

So here’s where you come in. Does process and regiment affect the quality or perhaps, the quantity of your writing? Do you write better in specific places, in certain mindsets, or at particular times? What is your process, your regiment, your devotion to a writing space, and do you think any of it matters? Let me hear your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Discuss: Writing Process and Regiment”

  1. Thank you for bringing this up! I do not have a set time each day for writing. I’ve always said I don’t want to schedule a time to write because my life is full of scheduled appointments and structure, and I feel like I want to let creative stay outside of a “set time.” But, I find I don’t always find the time to write, and after a couple days, I feel all itchy inside and realize I haven’t “carved out time.” Starting tomorrow, I’m going to test it for a week. I’m going to write for 30 minutes from 6:30-7:30am. That time is going to be FOR ME TO WRITE ONLY.

    Re: place. I just found one. In my car. Out of the stationary boxes (e.g. coffee shops, libraries, my house). I get in a moving box. No one else is around. It is quiet and there is a constant “white noise” as the car moves, and I can’t stop thinking in poems. I’ve started speaking aloud and recording my poetic moments in the car. It’s amazing how free I feel and how able to think without boxed in logic.

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    1. I think the car recording is wonderful! I found a recorder app for my phone which I occasionally use to record my thoughts and ideas, although I haven’t been able to draft anything while driving. Perhaps I should try harder to weave my car thoughts into some kind of narrative.

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  2. I’ve always felt guilty about not writing every day. But I realized that when I wasn’t writing I was thinking about writing. I think writers need room to ponder but we are such an action oriented society that often we only value the time we are actually writing as productive. Also, I think we want a comfortable writing space because the act of writing can be so uncomfortable and filled with fear. Thanks for the post!

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    1. I like that you use the words “fear” and “uncomfortable” in association with the writing process. When discussing process with others, I always neglect to talk about the discomfort. I think non-writers especially don’t realize how terrifying it is to sit down with the intention to write something beautiful and compelling. I squirm. I fidget. I sometimes get up and pace. It’s a fear and an anxiousness, although overcoming those, in the end, is just another part of being a writer.

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