Know Thy Own Process

horse2Last week I read someone’s advice to write a first draft without rereading. I tried to stick to that for…one day. Then I remembered Joan Didion’s Paris Review interview, in which she explains her process of rereading (and rewriting) from the beginning every day. That has always been my process, too. Aha, I thought, as if I’d been given permission, and I immediately returned to what works for me.

500 words a day (which isn’t even hard) and rereading every morning…at least until I have too much to reread.

As I reread I flesh out scenes and tweak dialogue. I write myself notes such as “Where are the birds?” or “Smells?” (I have a bad habit of leaving out smells.) Like Margie Lawson, while rereading I sometimes notice that none of my characters are wearing clothes.

Of course this is all personal, isn’t it? It’s almost a question of genre. (I notice how characters in Romance novels wear lots of clothes, but crime fiction characters wear almost none, unless stained with blood.) I find that my characters don’t need a lot of clothes. An occasional mention of bib overalls or an Easter bonnet poked full of real flowers, and I’m good.

The point is, KNOW THY OWN PROCESS. I’m reminded of child rearing. The books can be helpful, if they build your confidence and don’t dismantle it. Friends are helpful. But, finally, that’s your kid. You know her better than anyone else knows her. You’re the mom, and you have to (get to) decide what’s best.

Same with your writing process. By all means, push it a little farther (that could be part of your process). But it’s yours. Embrace it.


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