Writing exceptional and original content should be a no-brainer for an indie author, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is. While there are some genres where it seems that everyone is writing the same book over and over again (erotica and romance, for example), the nuances within each story are what set them apart. The writing process is as crucial an element for publishing a successful book as any other factor. Success comes from writing exceptional and original content.
Blending Discipline and Creativity to Improve Your Writing
Being a writer takes creativity, even in non-fiction. But writing exceptional and original content also takes discipline. Blending discipline and creativity can be challenging but achieving the right balance can help you achieve your writing goals while still writing exceptional and original content.
You can think of discipline as the drive behind the creative force. Creativity alone will not allow you to successfully become a published author. Creativity happens in the mind – discipline gets it down on paper. Discipline is not the same for everyone. Some people are able to sit down and begin writing and find time to do it with no problem. Others may find it difficult to take their desire to write and turn it into the practice of writing.
5 Ways to Instill Discipline for Writing Exceptional and Original Content
To introduce more discipline into your writing, you need to work with your personality, not against it. In other words, don’t make a plan to wake up at 5am and write for an hour if you typically can’t even think straight until 7am and three cups of coffee. One or more of these may work for you, or may be able to be modified to work for you:
- Dedicate time to writing. You can set goals of writing every day or a number of hours or pages per week but set goals that help you press forward on turning your idea into something more. If you’re going to pick a specific time to write, make sure it’s one you can truly commit to, where your creative energy is normally high.
- Just write. It’s easy to get in your own way, especially if you start worrying about word choices and editing as you write – we’ll talk more about that later. Discipline yourself to just write.
- Join a writer’s group. Being part of a writer’s group can help you remain accountable for making progress. Some writer’s groups meet to write; others simply offer support and inspiration to keep you going. Several meet online or have groups on Facebook or Twitter.
- Celebrate milestones. Writing might feel fun if it’s something you always wanted to do, but it is also hard work. It’s important to reward yourself when you meet certain milestones. You might celebrate finishing the first chapter, or the first 15,000 words. Celebrate the small goals you achieve along the way to getting the big goal accomplished. It will help you remain motivated.
- Self-care improves your writing. Hydrating, exercising, meditating, and caring for yourself mentally all allow you to write more consistently and more successfully. Take a walk. Have a cup of tea. Drink water. Meditate. You will open the vessels of creativity by doing so and each writing session will be more productive. Make self-care a daily habit.
Don't Overthink It - Just Write
One of the things that slows writers down the most from writing exceptional and original content is overthinking. Two writers sit down for an hour to write. One writes four pages. The other writes one paragraph but still isn’t sure if he likes it. The difference between them? The one who wrote four pages simply got the words down, even if they weren’t the perfect word choices. Getting the general idea recorded, knowing she could come back and revise or edit later, allowed her to speed through the writing and get the story flowing. The writer who only managed a paragraph agonized over every word choice, took time to look up options in a thesaurus, and couldn’t get into a rhythm writing. Learn how to let go of achieving perfection on the first draft. It’s not possible.
Pansters vs Plotters
There are two types of writers: pansters and plotters. Neither approach is better at writing exceptional and original content, but the approach you take should be the one that suits your writing style best. Don’t try to force yourself to be a punster if you’re a plotter, or vice versa.
What Is a Panster?
Pantsers are so named for the “fly by the seat of their pants” approach to writing. These writers simply sit down and start pounding out the words. They have a vague idea of the story they want to tell, but they let their imagination flow through their fingertips. These writers are the ones who often say things like, “The characters come to life and dictate the path the story takes.” Probably the most well-known panster is Stephen King, who famously said, “Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters' theses.” King also said, "You go where the story leads you." Read more King quotes to inspire your writing here.
Pros of being a panster: Pansters can write freely, without worrying about whether or not they are following an outline. There is less work up front before actually writing, so you can just jump in and start telling your story.
Cons of being a panster: Pansters sometimes have less discipline that plotters, by virtue of their free-spirited personalities. They also tend to suffer from more writer’s block than plotters.
What Is a Plotter?
A plotter, in case you haven’t guessed it, plots out the story. Plotters develop character outlines and know the history of their characters and how it contributes to their psychology. They write an outline before writing the actual book. There is a lot more up-front planning happening for plotters. Famous plotters include John Grisham and R. L. Stein. Read quotes from John Grisham on writing here.
Pros of being a plotter: The basics of the story are already there, making it easier to fill in the gaps and write. All of that up-front work makes it highly unlikely that the plotter will develop writer’s block, because they can always just move to a different section of the story.
Cons of being a plotter: It’s easy to become too rigid in following the outline and not allow for the natural story to be told. And when a change is made, it impacts everything else that has already been outlined and planned. It can become cumbersome and overwhelm the writer to the point of writer’s freeze.
There's No One Right Way to Write Your Book
There is no one way true method for writing exceptional and original content, but it does take discipline to turn your ideas into books, accountability to keep writing, and an approach that works for you.