I'm going to do a self-link to something that I really like.1 I've been fortunate enough to have some amazing people participate in the Writer Workflow series here at Macdrifter. This series has been one of my favorite parts of running a "blog" but all the credit goes to the contributors. I started the series hoping for technical insight but each interview has provided unexpected philosophical jewels that I contemplate every time I write.
I am thankful to every one of these writers.
In order of appearance:
There are very few aspects of any of my workflows that I’m not willing to reconsider. If a better option presents itself, I’m almost always willing to switch.
What I call commentary is more me just thinking through things.
Not thinking before writing strikes me as poor form. Reflection, thinking, meditating, whatever you want to call it, is sorely under-valued today. So many people just post whatever is on their mind with no attempt to examine the thought, poke it, play with it, see if it has value or can be improved.
Developing habits is more important than what those habits are. I don’t need to sit in this chair or drink this tea (Twinings Earl Grey) in order to write, but making the tea and turning on the light over my left shoulder get me in the mindset of writing, even—or especially—when I don’t feel inspired. Everyone’s habits sound silly and precious to someone else, but if work becomes part of the habit, then your rituals are worthwhile.
I can’t imagine not writing in plain text. I think future versions of the iPad, especially, are going to revolutionize the workflow of writers, and we’ll see all kinds of apps appear for writing. But it’s extremely difficult for me to imagine an efficient workflow that isn’t rooted, in some way, in plain, boring, just-works text.
Take a moment and try to find the right words to frame whatever it is you’re thinking about. Write them down and look at them. Read them back to yourself aloud (do your best Morgan Freeman voice, if that helps). Repeat the process until you can’t hear that creaking sound coming from the rhetorical tree limb you were out on – but didn’t know you were out on – anymore.
While I am always keen to improve, I stopped changing tools too often as I ended up wasting time playing around too much. Forcing myself to stick with a specific tool or application for at least 6 months has helped me to appreciate individual applications and actually learn more about them, e.g. their keyboard shortcuts.
I let an article simmer for several days, sometimes even weeks, but I don’t write drafts. I build up what I want to say (and the best ways to convey it) in my mind until “I’m happy with my thoughts” and I’m ready to turn them into words.
There’s no doubt that obsessing about your workflows is a form of procrastination, but not having a workflow is just as likely to lead you down the road of the undone.
Practice is the biggest enhancement I’ve made to my writing.
If you never revise a story from its early form, it means you weren’t receptive.
- Really, this is not to increase page views. I think this stuff is gold. I have no idea how it ended up on Macdrifter. Probably luck. Yeah, let's call it luck. ↩