Every writer has their own creative process. Some write when the spirit moves them, or when they can find time.

Others write every day as a matter of habit. You might, at first glance, think that one way is better than another.

And while it’s true that there is  a benefit to writing every day, there’s likely more benefit to understanding your writing personality and artist’s nature to create a productive, and realistic, writing plan.

Let’s take a look at some of the various styles and characteristics your may have and explore how that might look in a creative writing plan.

The Perfect Planner

I’m a planner. I have almost every hour of every week day scheduled. I schedule my breakfast, my snacks, my writing time and my meditation. Why am I so structured? Because I know if I don’t create a structure, I’ll sit on my ass all day and not get anything done. I save those days for Saturday and Sunday because we all need lazy days from time to time. I write fiction for one to two hours each day and it’s usually the first thing I do after I drink about half a pot of coffee and journal three pages.

What works with this type of writing process is this:

  •  It forces me/you to write every day and to push through those awful days when writing just doesn’t come naturally or flow smoothly.
  •  It forces me/you to move beyond fears and write anyway. Sure, you may throw away half of what is written but it is still progress. (And do be honest I don’t throw away much. I just label it for what it is and consider using it later, in another story.)
  •  It also forces your muse to step forward. It trains the sneaky lady to show up day after day and when she behaves, she gets two days off.
  •  Planners tend to plot first and write later. However, some planners are able to embrace the power of both plotting and letting the characters guide the plot and story.

 What may not work with this type of writing process:

  • Some days it makes sense to sit with your book and not write a single word. There are days when you just need to daydream and figure it all out. Actually, I have been known to spend weeks, okay months, doing this. When stuck, I’ve taken long breaks from a project with the faith that the answers would come to me. They do. They always do.
  •  Depending on your schedule it may not leave time for play, which is important to the creative process. If you schedule too much time to write and don’t leave enough time for friends, family, and the occasional junk television show and cocktail then you’re missing out on life. That’s no good.
  •  If the planner is too rigid, and plots before they write, they may write themselves into a corner with a plot that just doesn’t work. The end result can be frustrating and waste time.


The Dramatic Dabbler

The dabbler is someone who writes when the muse is cooperative. She may or may not plot her story in advance. More likely than not, she writes by the seat of her pants.

 What works with this type of writing process is this:

  •  There’s tremendous joy to be experienced when the muse is singing in your ear. The words flow from your mind and onto the paper, or keyboard as it may be, and you feel like a real writer. It’s fun.
  •  Dabblers tend to become very intense during these highly creative spurts. They can get a lot done and may set aside sleep, friends, food, and family during this time.

What may not work with this type of writing process:

  •  The problem with being a dabbler is that when the muse isn’t singing, you don’t get anything done. If you don’t have goals and deadlines, which you should, then that’s fine. However, assuming you want to publish your books then deadlines and goals are imperative.
  •  Additionally, there’s a lot to be learned by pushing through those times when you don’t feel very creative. It makes you a stronger, and better, writer. It may not always be fun but it’s always an educational experience. Being an artist isn’t about just doing it when you feel like it. It’s about committing yourself to a project and seeing it through.

The Happy Medium

Somewhere in the land of happily ever after there is a happy medium. There is an artist who has goals and creates a plan to help her achieve those goals. She also leaves wiggle room for those days, which are few and far between, when she just doesn’t feel it and needs to take time off to noodle, play, and think about her story away from the paper.

It might look something like this:

  1. Plot story and get feedback from critique partners.
  2. Establish desired publishing/submitting date. (Publishing date if you’re self publishing or have a contract with an agent or publisher. Submitting date if you’re going to submit to an agent or publisher.)
  3. Pull out hand dandy calendar and take a look at what’s possible. Can you write 2000 words a day and be done a week or two before your first draft deadline? Can you edit five pages a day and be ready to submit/publish by your chosen deadline? Don’t over book yourself. Don’t plan on writing 10,000 words a day if you only have an hour or two to write. If page or word counts aren’t effective for you, set a writing time. Write for 20, 30, or 60 minutes. Set goals that speak to you and will help you finish your book by your deadline.
  4.  Write, edit, write, edit – share with fellow critique partners. Edit some more.
  5.  Take days off when it’s necessary but no more than a few each month.
  6. Create rewards if necessary. Are you motivated by star stickers? No? What about massages, new books, a chocolate truffle or a night out with the girls? Consider rewarding yourself when you create a realistic writing schedule and stick to it day after day, week after week, and month after month.
  7. Get started on that next book. Don’t delay and celebrate your finished manuscript for too long. Jump right back into the process. If you’re stumped for a new story idea, grab a .99 cent Story Starter Report or read some of the Story Starter Sunday posts. They may trigger an idea that you can roll with.

Pulling it All Together

 Spend some time thinking about your writing process. Do you write almost every day? Why or why not? How might you modify your writing habits to create a more productive practice?

Think about the reasons you have for your current writing process. Do they support you to succeed or do they get in the way of your success? Do they support you to enjoy the writing process and grow as a writer or do they keep you stuck in the same routine and mindset?

Consider the following books on the creative process:

  • Coaching the Artist Within: Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach by Ph.D. Eric Maisel
  •  The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Julia Cameron
  • Inspiring Creativity: An Anthology of Powerful Insights and Practical Ideas to Guide You to Successful Creating edited by Rick Benzel



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