Each of us are individuals.

As such, each of us write differently. Our methods, motivations, styles, and speeds: they all vary from person to person. Common sense, right? Yet there are so many tips constantly bandied about that sometimes don’t apply to the writer being advised.

Some of us are wholly spontaneous writers; outlines are the death of our creativity, and schedules are nigh impossible. Some of us are planners; the more intricate the outline, the the better our writing, and the more likely we are to finish as planned. Some of us fall between the two, and sometimes it even varies from project to project.

Some of us write because we want recognition. Some of us write because we have so many stories we want to share. Some of us write because writing helps us sort out our emotions. Some of us write for no clear reason at all, except to write.

Some of us like description, perhaps a touch too much. Some of us like succinctness, sometimes to the point of lacking any description at all. Some of us like longer sentences, complex syntaxes and grammar, unusual words. Some of us prefer concision, simplicity of structure, words common and easily understood. Some of us rarely deviate in style, while some of us vary wildly between works, or even scenes.

Some of us write slowly. Some of us write quickly. Some of us write in bursts. Some of us write consistently.

So where do you fall on the spectrum? What motivates you to write? What are some tips you’ve heard that you’ve found particularly helpful, or detrimental? How do you go about writing? And, of course, why?


  1. Snow White Queen on 6 November 2010, 18:09 said:

    Yay, a writing article! So on the writing spectrum, I’m probably on the more organized side. However, my style is kind of schizophrenic depending on how tired I am that day. I write because I want to see I like constructing worlds, characters, and histories, making them sound wonderful and real. It makes me feel a little more powerful and a little more in touch with myself, if it makes any sense. It’s happened before that I realize that what I was writing kind of stemmed from something in my own life.

  2. WarriorsGate on 6 November 2010, 19:16 said:

    As reluctantly as possible.

  3. NeuroticPlatypus on 6 November 2010, 20:06 said:

    Yay, a writing article!

    I second this.

    I am not organized at all. I never do outlines because when I already know everything that is going to happen, I get bored. I should probably figure out the endings of stories before I start writing (or at least soon after), but I don’t. I write in bursts and then don’t write for weeks (or months) at a time. I write because it’s fun. I’ve always liked to play pretend, and that’s what writing is like to me. I also like making characters and getting inside people’s heads.

  4. Danielle on 6 November 2010, 20:29 said:

    Yay, a writing article!


    I write much the same way as NeuroticPlatypus—spontaneously, and with very little planning. I tried to plan once, and I got bored with my own story by the third chapter. I like to know about the world I’m writing for beforehand—for example, my current WIP is set in a mysterious town on the Oregon coast. Since I made the town up, I did a good deal of thinking about what the town is like. But as far as the story goes, I just plunge in with a vague idea of where I’m going and where the darned thing is going to end.

    I write because I like to learn. As I write, I learn about my characters, their lives and motivations, and what makes them tick. I like discovery, and for me, writing is discovering a story. Like the writers of Lost said, “It doesn’t feel like something we created; it feels like something we tapped into.” I love the feeling of tapping into a new story, and of learning new things along with the characters. Sometimes I’ll run across a plot twist that surprises me along with all the characters, and no matter what I do I can’t erase it. It’s too integral to the story; it fits too well. For me, that’s the best part of writing a story.

  5. Spanman on 6 November 2010, 22:41 said:

    I write the ending first, because if I have the end in mind, I can rustle up the motivation to work out how my characters got there.

    I write because I see stories in people I know and see, whether they’re true stories or made-up ones, and they intrigue me enough that I can’t stand not writing them down somewhere.

  6. Northmark on 7 November 2010, 00:31 said:

    I write very spontaneously, although I’m always thinking about my storylines. I know where my stories are going to go, but I never plan them on paper. Whenever I have to do creative writing for a class it’s very difficult because I’m not used to writing for a deadline, which usually ends in last-minute cramming.

    I’ve been thinking about possible plots for things since before I knew how to write them down, and I want to develop my writing ability to the point where I can share them with others.

  7. SweetRunningBreeze on 7 November 2010, 00:35 said:

    I do love to plan. Maybe it causes my ideas to burn out, but it also causes me to write faster and more efficiently (which prevents burnout.)

    I agree with what Danielle said. My favorite part of writing is when characters surprise me. I also agree with Spanman- people are so interesting. They need to be written about.

  8. No one. on 7 November 2010, 04:55 said:

    I write because it compels me to do so. That motivation, idea or whatever makes me write makes me want to do something, to play with the reader’s mind or emotion because I’m manipulative because I enjoy doing it. Not many things makes me actually enjoy it on a deep level.

    I fall somewhere between spontaneous and planned writing. I don’t like planning my whole story out because that’s just boring and I won’t like my story. I don’t just jump in and write, because I have no where to go, no idea what to write and I fear that my story will turn out badly.

    So I form a vague idea or outline of a story and develop it on paper from there.

  9. dragonarya on 7 November 2010, 12:37 said:

    For me, I need characters. If there aren’t any compelling characters, or ones that I don’t like, I can’t go anywhere. (Of course, for me, the ones that are the most fun to write are the screwed-up ones.) But to start, I need a vision. An image. Or inspiration from another good story.
    I usually plan the story bit by bit in my head before writing it down, or sometimes I just sit and write in bursts.
    As for what motivates me… well, I just love to do it. I can’t imagine not doing it, not creating. It is an outlet for my emotions too. I’ve written things that resulted from me just pouring my heart into the keyboard.
    As for tips, I’ve never used the profile thing for characters. If I have to do that, it’s a sign of trouble, because I know my characters so well, I don’t need to do that. I try to analyze my writing as harshly as possible, as what the reader would think up first reading it; mostly lessons from lccorp2 taken to heart. But most tips I always take with a grain of salt, because I know they might not apply to me.

  10. Snow White Queen on 7 November 2010, 14:02 said:

    Whoever said that people are interesting and need to be written about, I second that.

    I think a quote from Sylvia Plath is relevant here-

    And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

  11. ZeeZee on 7 November 2010, 18:24 said:

    I tend to plan out exactly what the world/setting is, but for the story itself I usually don’t outline it. When I do outline, it always ends up seeming stilted.

  12. swenson on 7 November 2010, 23:00 said:

    I write very spontaneously, but unfortunately this means I usually lose interest very quickly. The only time of the year I write continuously is NaNoWriMo, and I certainly don’t plan then! My story always goes off the rails anyway, so it’s pretty useless to try to plan things out first anyway.

    When I do write, though, it’s purely for enjoyment. I don’t think my writing is very good, and I don’t really care enough to try to publish it. I write for the sheer fun of doing it! :)

  13. Miel on 8 November 2010, 04:31 said:

    I write because I love stories and I have too many stories knocking around in my head that want to get out. Sometimes these stories come out in their complete state, and I just record them. Sometimes I only have a vague idea of them, and from there, I either improvise, or more rarely, I start outlining.

    I’m not focused on getting published, or on showing my writing to others. I’m happy with having my own imaginary library, full stories that I love, that occasionally spews out a written work (of dubious quality XD).

  14. Feanor on 9 November 2010, 20:24 said:

    Let’s see… I write in bursts, definitely. Which is always a struggle during NaNoWriMo, the only time I actually try to write regularly. I’m bad with description, good with dialogue I think. Dostoyesvky is a huge influence. I’m just very very messy overall, and I don’t often write with a specific story in mind. I let it write itself. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. I also use poetry, and to me writing is a lot like literal-izing poetic concepts and ideas and images.

  15. Puppet on 10 November 2010, 16:14 said:

    I don’t know how to describe my writing style… I just do it.

  16. Magus on 10 November 2010, 17:45 said:

    Here’s a few things about my writing style:

    1. I have problems expanding descriptions enough to get a novel of reasonable length and detail, so I love writing script. Nobody cares if your script is only fifty pages long.

    2. I never, ever write down the plot until I start working on it. My brain seems to recognize a plot guide as “oh, you already finished it, okay.”

    3. The more people I tell about it, the harder it gets to write it.

    4. With the exception of one drama that was based on a true story, I write schizophrenic comedies where I never dwell too much one one joke and rely more on a general mood than wordplay.

  17. The Angel Islington on 10 November 2010, 19:02 said:

    I abhor outlines. They do nothing for me. I always write in secret and for long amounts of time. Usually because I have a scene in my head.

  18. ZeeZee on 14 November 2010, 15:41 said:

    The more people I tell about it, the harder it gets to write it.

    I agree. As soon as I tell people about what I’m writing, I start to feel pressured to write something that they will approve of, not what I really want to write.

  19. NeuroticPlatypus on 14 November 2010, 15:48 said:

    I start to feel pressured to write something that they will approve of

    That’s exactly what happens to me.

  20. Anonymous on 15 November 2010, 06:00 said:

    I don’t, I’m not a writer.

    I do have a great story to tell, and it’s all laid out in detail, it’s just the actual prose I struggle with.

  21. I bake icecubes. on 15 November 2010, 23:50 said:

    I find little need for planning, instead opting for sudden progression at arbitrary intervals. And yet, I always pen down bursts of inspiration rarely contextually fitting, with the intent of guiding my story towards events predetermined. Indeed, I know not where I will end beforetime, and though the unfortunate consequence thereof is that I may not finish the current poem, short story, draft or manuscript — as I rarely do —, I find a soothing calm in letting the scenario and plot unfold while I neurotically edit every last sentence, word and stylistic choice, as well as the over-all literary and linguistic cohesion.

    Verily, I need not edit much when I am finally done writing.

    I dare say, that (inaccurate reference) sentence was not run-on! Should I have erred in any way, however, note that I have been awake for two full days.

    ~ Iced

  22. I bake icecubes. on 15 November 2010, 23:54 said:

    My apologies; I of course meant to say: “I need not edit a lot […].”

  23. cdeveau on 19 November 2010, 00:00 said:

    I write like a herd of stampeding wildebeests on acid. It’s always different, except for the trample.

  24. WiseWillow on 20 November 2010, 19:58 said:

    I write in bursts here and there, very sporadically. I don’t really plan, though I have a vague gist of where things are going. I write for emotional release when I’m stressed, or for expression when I’m happy.

  25. Pearl on 22 November 2010, 23:30 said:

    I write because I love to read, so I try to write a story that I would love to read, multiple times.

    I try to write the way I would like to read it, the way it should feel.

  26. ZeeZee on 22 November 2010, 23:48 said:

    I don’t really plan, though I have a vague gist of where things are going

    Me too. Every time I plan, it ends up going somewhere I didn’t expect. I’ve learned not to plan.

  27. Deborah on 9 January 2011, 14:12 said:

    I have a plan, but its in my head more than it is on paper, and I’m open to changing it if it doesn’t make sense. I’ve never been one of those ‘write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ type of people, though I have nothing against people who are. Its just not how my mind works.

  28. EmeraldDragon on 28 May 2011, 09:18 said:

    I’m in between. I plan out my major events, but leave the details to develop in the process.

  29. BettyCross on 29 May 2011, 07:31 said:

    My system is like EmeraldDragon’s. In my second novel, I knew characters A, B, and C would end up on the same side against character D, even though C and D started out as allies. However, I didn’t figure out until well into the writing how and why C would switch sides.

  30. Beldam on 12 July 2011, 13:56 said:

    I write in bursts, but even when I’m not adding to the story I’m thinking of it, or at least jotting down various ideas just because I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t write. When i’m feeling blocked or I’m having a hard time finishing a chapter or something I usually read what I have so far out loud, and then I continue sort of speaking the prose as I write. Somehow, it just seems to make it easier to get into the world when I’m actually experiencing the words with more than one of my senses.

  31. Francois Tremblay on 7 March 2019, 08:15 said:

    I plan an outline beforehand, but not any more details than that. I write mostly to get stories out that I have in my head, with recognition as a secondary motive. I try to vary my style depending on the needs of the narrative, although I generally lean on simple sentences and wording in order to be unobtrusive.