How to Figure Out What Works For You

Photo credit: saschapohflepp on Flickr
The thing about dispensing writing advice is intentional or not, it's easy for people to think your tips are less tips and more rules. The "write every day" mantra, for example, is sometimes misunderstood as you must write every day or you're not a real writer—which is completely inaccurate and can even be damaging when people try to force themselves to do something that doesn't work for them and/or think they're failures when they can't.

This is why I try to make it clear whenever I share a new strategy or tool that while this particular thing works for me, your mileage may vary. But even with that, sometimes it can be difficult to look at a post with advice that sounds great and know whether or not it'll actually be a good fit for you.

So how do you know? Over the years, I've found the biggest key to growth is to be open to trying new things—and give yourself permission not to feel bad if it doesn't work out. My pre-draft synopsis method which I've found works well with my plotting process and as a bonus cuts out the dreaded post-draft condensing synopsis out came from experimenting with it after I heard another writer mention they use pre-drafts synopses online. Scrivener, which I now swear by as my favorite plotting and early draft tool, also came from online recommendations I decided to try out—twice, because the first time I didn't get it. Everything from my early morning habits, to my exercise routine, to so many of the writing strategies and methods I've picked up over the years came from a willingness to experiment with different methods to see what sticks.

Of course, there are also plenty of strategies I've tossed aside because they didn't work well for me. Writing everyday is a big one—the only time I write everyday is when I'm first drafting, and even then I take a day of the week off. Pre-writing—writing before you start your first draft work to "warm up" your writing muscles—was something I experimented with, then abandoned, because I didn't get enough benefits to merit the extra time it took to pre-write. Bullet journals are really popular right now, and while I like the idea, until there's a digital version it wouldn't be a good fit for me because handwriting and drawing is physically painful for me, at least right now.

The thing to remember is every writer is an individual. No matter how many people swear by a certain writing tip, or how influential or popular or successful the person giving the tip is, it might not work for you and that's okay. There are very few rules in the writing world that are entirely unbreakable (or unignorable), but the only way to really determine whether or not will jive with your writing style is to give it a shot.

So what are you waiting for?

What writing tips, strategies, or tools have you tried out that did and didn't work for you?

Twitter-sized bites:
No writing strategy is for everyone—but how do you know what'll work for you? @Ava_Jae shares some thoughts. (Click to tweet
What writing tips or tools have you tried out that did/didn't work for you? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

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