So there's been an article going around the twittersphere about the things one must do to be a Real Writer™ and most people on my feed are drinking deeply of the well of snark. I'll pass on linking the article in question because articles like it happen every once in a while, like flat tires or stubbing one's toe. You'll come across another one eventually.
I've certainly fallen prey to more than one of them when I was an impressionable young breaker of keyboards. And, to be honest, there's something not entirely unhelpful in them--at least not for me. The theme of this week's article was to write every day, and it's not the first time I've heard that. The motivating power of guilt kept me on track when I was first making serious efforts at composing stories for other people rather than just myself.
But--do I write every day now? Hell no, I don't. When I'm working on a project, I try to get something down every day. But between that, there's outlining. There's research. Particularly with my historical novels, research is an essential part of my creative process, and I'd rate a day of research as far more productive than a day of writing. Writing is complicated, and the words I get down on a page without research and without planning would be worth far less.
Thanks in part to articles like the aforementioned, it took me a lot longer to understand that than I'd like.
But this is all besides the point. The point here being that writing articles tut tutting impressionable young authors is good for exposure, and I want to throw my two cents into life's take-a-penny bin!
Starting with the premise that I am a Real Writer™, obviously all Real Writers™ must behave as I do. Here is my confessional-- er, 7-point guide to Real Writing™.
1) When you sit down with the intention of writing, you must actually stare at Twitter for half-an-hour before typing a word.
2) When writing scenes appropriate for them, you must make engine and spaceship noises with your mouth. For experts only.
3) Only Real Writers™ have the ability to read a sentence five times over and still miss the glaring typo.
4) While gearing yourself up, you must listen to the same bad music that you have listened to since high school*. You must know it is bad. You must embrace the bad.
*Exception: high school writers and younger. You are still allowed to fool yourselves into thinking that the music you listen to is good--for now.
5) You must inconsistently allow your word processor to autocorrect double dashes into em dashes, and drive your beta readers mad.
6) You must include up to 100 semi-colons in your first draft, and you must also cut that down to 5 in editing. (Note: if this is a short story and only 200 words, semi-colons still mandatory.)
7) At least once per project, you must include a mortifying error, on the level of describing a sunrise as coming from the west, to test your beta readers and editors. Yes. To test. That is the story I am sticking to.
I hope you have been appropriately enlightened by this glimpse into my processes. If you try hard, you, too, can live up to them.