How I Changed All My Writing Habits

“Moleskine reporter notebook” by Hades2k is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one when becomes a writer paid (minimally, but paid!) for writing, one chucks all of one’s precious notions about craft and art and motivation out the window that has needed replacing for three years (ha, ha!) and gets to writing.


I used to wonder aloud, “What’s my motivation?”

Now I have a very easy answer. “Your motivation is you need to write this book before the planet explodes or your deadline arrives, whichever comes first, so chop chop.”


I am not yet an author who works from a ten-page outline with all the major story threads and characters identified and explored, but I aspire to be that author someday. As very much a “pantser,” one who “finds” her story by stumbling continuously, in the dark, I am slowly but surely becoming a plotter. And you know what? It’s good, especially when one writes mysteries where there are, by necessity, clues and red herrings and it’s helpful to know some of that stuff up front. I truly despair of my young aversion to plotting.


Not setting as in story but setting as in, “Oh, this airplane ride isn’t 100% turbulent. Time to write!” I prefer to write at home, but gone are the days when I can be choosy about location.

Beautiful sentences

I know it to be true that these are the sentences that never, ever, not even once, survive to final drafts, so now when I see them I say, “Oh, look at you! So pretty!” and delete them before I forget and have to do it months down the road.


Writing is rewriting. You’ve heard it said, and it’s true. I used to love writing first drafts. Now I am simply grateful for them. Without one, I cannot do the real, hard, up to the elbows in muck job of editing, which I enjoy because I am a sadist.


I used to celebrate finishing a novel, and tell everyone, and go out to dinner. Now I tell my partner to go get something nice at the liquor store, pause for the length of two TV dramas I can watch back-to-back, and jump into the next project. They says sharks die if they stop swimming. I’ve come to think of myself as a writing shark.


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