Writing Methods: Have it Your Way

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us… serve it your way.

If you were born much later than, say, 1970, then you may have missed that tasty morsel of a Burger King commercial. But for the rest of us, it lives on in our memories, no matter how desperately we try to excise it. Oh well, today it serves as a delicious metaphor for writers.

I’m sure you’ve read countless books and blog posts on methods of writing your book. Perhaps you’ve been advised to write a sh***y first draft, a la the incomparable Anne Lamott. Alternatively, you may have heard the advice, edit as you go, so that your revisions are not so overwhelming.

Hmm. Which method to choose?

And what about the “plotters vs. pantsers” debate? Some writers prefer to plot out their whole novel and work from an outline. Others call themselves “seat of the pants” writers — they have a rough idea of where the story is going but they don’t really know until it unfolds itself as they write it. (Sounds scary to me, but whatever.)

Is one way better than another?

And if you happen to be a plotter… well, do you use the sticky note method, or the outlining method, or the chapter summary method, or… well, what’s it gonna be?

Perhaps you like to use specific techniques. My friend Randy Ingermanson has developed the Snowflake Method for writing a novel, and even has software available to help. But others have their own methods… there’s the Kiser Method, the Baby Steps Method, the NaNoWriMo method, the 90-Day Novel method, and more.

Which to choose?

And novel writing software! Well, of course there’s the above-mentioned Snowflake software. There’s also Scrivener, the popular software package that many authors absolutely love. There are others (just Google “novel writing software.”) Which is best?

Then there’s the whole “time of day” issue. Some folks maintain you’re at your most creative in the early hours, and insist that you should get up before dawn and hit the computer. But others are aware that they’re most creative late at night.

Critique groups, anyone? Many people swear by them. I recommend them all the time. But… critique groups don’t work for everyone.

So many choices! Here’s my point:

Don’t let anyone talk you into “one right way” of writing your books.

Ask people for their input and recommendations, try different things, and make up your own mind. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If something’s not working, try something else.

Do what works for you! Don’t apologize for it, don’t feel the need to justify yourself, and don’t feel like you have to try and fit in.

Just like at Burger King… have it your way.

For those of you who never saw the commercial, or if you just want to take a trip down memory lane… here’s a link to the 1974 commercials.

So tell us… what’s your way?