Lots of writers out there are ‘on the edge.’ Perhaps they are not writers at all, but they are thinking about writing and they are almost or nearly writing. The purpose of a writers’ workshop as I see it is to get these writers on track or, if they have strayed, to get them back on track. This is one of the reasons why I set up The Abu Dhabi Writers’ Workshop – to support writers, but also to help them help themselves.
The Abu Dhabi Writers’ Workshop, which met for the first time in June 2015, has held over 30 sessions and run over 90 workshop hours. At the last count there were 606 members. Most of our regular writers have set their goals and are most definitely on track. However, it’s now possible to have a better overview of the issues encountered by some of our newer writers and from time to time I hope to discuss these here on the All Write In Abu Dhabi blog.
How our writers write, their writing process, comes up for discussion on a regular basis. I think there are warning signals that we need to watch out for that indicate all is not well with our writing process. Here are some of them.
You need to review your writing process if …
- you’ve been writing for a long while and have little to show for it;
- you lack the ideas and inspiration to keep going;
- you’ve lost your direction;
- you’ve lost sight of the story you wanted to write;
- your rough draft hasn’t moved on for some time;
- you keep adding subplots to your novel;
- you write infrequently;
- you read only rarely.
I’m sure I can come up with other signals, but these should be enough to get us started.
Obviously people take different approaches to their writing. The way you write may not suit me. The way I write may not suit you. The three approaches most commonly described in the how-to-write literature are as follows:
Pantser writing – called this because it is when people write ‘by the seat of their pants.’ These writers begin writing, then figure out where their story is going as they write. Sometimes this works very well. Sometimes it is a disaster with the writer ending up wandering about in the dark wood of the soul.
Freestyle writing – in which the writer writes scenes out of order and then organizes those scenes into a coherent structure.
Outline writing – here the writer puts together a detailed outline, working out who does what and when, and adding in the related subplots. When everything is in place, they go full speed ahead and write their first draft. Have a look at this video in which crime writer Jeffery Deaver explains his approach to outlining:
There are no rules. You can write the way you want to. However, successful writers usually establish the rules that work for them and stick to those rules. If your novel is getting written, and if your work is getting published, you’re doing something right. If you’re floundering in a mire of words, join us at The Abu Dhabi Writers’ Workshop and find out about the writing processes favoured by our most seasoned and successful writers.