Writing for me is a kind of compulsion, so I don’t think anyone could have made me do it, or prevented me from doing it.
J.K. Rowling reflects on annotating the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“I wrote the book … in snatched hours, in clattering cafés or in the dead of night … The story of how I wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stoneis written invisibly on every page, legible only to me. Sixteen years after it was published, the memories are as vivid as ever as I turn…
We can toil in obscurity for years before we get a lucky break. We can also give up and accept that it isn’t meant to be.
But something happens when we feel like a complete failure. We start to simplify everything — what we own, where what we do — and get back to basics.
Defeat offers its own beneficial limitations. It pushes us to play with what he have and stick to the belief in our art.
Like photography, all writing is in the edit.
Here’s one recommended writing approach
First, start writing on paper to help generate ideas. Anything goes. Then type out what’s worth keeping on to your phone to finesse your text. Better yet, throw the first draft onto different apps like WordPress (read why I recommend WordPress for blogging here), Byword, or iAWriter and then process it for grammar through the Hemingway App or my favorite writing assistant, Grammarly.
- Write everything out on paper
- Type your notes out on your phone or computer
- Copy-paste written text into an app like Grammarly for proofreading
Blogger Michael Lopp sums up his writing process nicely in “How to Write a Blog Post”:
Repeat until it starts to feel done in your head. If it’s handwritten, type it into a computing device. When you are close to done, print it out on paper. Sit somewhere else with your favorite pen and edit your work harshly. If this piece is important, let someone else edit harshly.
That’s right! Print it out and edit it in a different place altogether. Some writers think better to the hum of the coffee shop, JK Rowling included. Others need absolute silence, preferring to stare at a wall so that the only work to look at is the one being created in the mind’s eye.
The writing process is a messy one that includes not only different formats but also different writing environments. Sometimes a great sentence starts on paper; other times it starts on your smartphone. Just be ready to review it a few times before you hit publish.