I'm writing this despite the fact that I'm not a professional writer, or even especially prolific. But I'm passionate about writing; I've been so from a very early age. I've been part of writing circles for years, and still keep in touch with people from the book industry.
I'm writing this for all the good people I know who would love to express their creativity in writing, but fall into the trap of popular myths, and find themselves running up against a wall, then give up because they can't seem to do things "properly". And that's too bad. So let's see what we can do about it.
Myth #1: Real writers write very slowly
Um, NO. Well, some writers are known to. But if you write slowly, endlessly polishing every single phrase, the immediate consequence is that you'll write little. And without enough practice, you'll never get any good. First get your writing done, then make it better. Don't worry, it won't be as bad as you think anyway, especially once writing becomes second nature to you. Which also won't happen unless you write, write, write.
Speaking of which...
Myth #2: Real writers write very fast
That, too, is something certain writers do: writing the first draft at breakneck speed, on the idea that any flaws are fixable during the editing process. Cue endless editing rounds that never quite manage to get the story into shape. How long do you think your enthusiasm will last? Not to mention that high-speed writing -- 2000 words a day -- is exhausting, even assuming you have the time for it.
Myth #3: Real writers write an outline first
Supposedly, yes. I bet there are writers who even do that for real. But ultimately, a story is a living, organic thing that wants to grow, not be designed like a building. And even a building changes organically in time, as the people who use it and their needs change. All too often, developments in a story don't occur to me until I've written a particular scene, which in turn was born from a previous scene and so on. If my stories make sense at all, it's because nothing happens because it was supposed to; everything derives logically from the (fictional) events that took place before.
Now, a friend of mine once shared yet another method with me. He'd first write a very short, sketchy version of the story from end to end. Then he'd write a second, more fleshed-out version of the initial one, and so on until he'd reach the desired length, be it short story, novella or novel. I'm skeptical of this approach as well, but it does work for him, so what can I say.
Ultimately, there's no recipe for fiction writing. Try various methods and see what works best for you and the story you're writing right now.
So, how do I write?
These days I write anywhere from 300 to 1500 words a day (when I have a story in the works). I can keep that up for about two weeks in a row, then I need a break. I normally write my stories linearly from beginning to end, though I've written at least one out of order, and others starting from a core scene or monologue (or even a stand-alone vignette), which I then bookended with a beginning, middle and end. My stories typically clock in at 7500 words or thereabouts, which I guess says a thing or two about my style and level of verbosity. When inspiration is lax, I go back and review what I have so far; that allows me to spot problems early and keep important details in short term memory.
If that sounds like unattainable performance (after all, Stephen King himself declared in an interview that his daily quota is 1500 words), remember that I got to this point by writing blog posts until the very act of writing became as natural as breathing to me. Not all of them were good. Not all of them were even finished. But I persisted.
So dare to write, and you'll get somewhere yet. All that matters is that you have something to say, and no advice is going to help you with that.
Three myths of fiction writing by Felix Pleșoianu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.