I've been in a rousing debate recently with another writer about the writing process. He's got what I think of as the Typical Writer Personality: He prefers a process that is slow, careful, methodical, painstaking, and deeply private. He never shares work until it has been through multiple revisions, and he doesn't see the point in self publishing (to put it mildly).
Me, on the other hand, I think I display an Abnormal Writer Temperament: I write and share compulsively. When I finish a 20 or 30 page segment I must run it by a trusted friend for a reality check, or I feel practically unable to continue. What if it stinks? Is heading in the wrong direction? Is setting the wrong tone? What if it's just plain boring? I desperately need feedback and reinforcement and I absolutely can't work in a vacuum. I love the self-publishing model because I can get my stuff out into the world and get a real idea of the reception.
It's not that I can't be thorough, but I write quickly and compulsively. I do revise, sure, but first I just want to get it out n paper. And I expect it to be good. I feel like if I can't get something about 75% right on the first draft then I should just scrap it and move on. Or not move on. Maybe just throw my hands in the air and go back to bookkeeping.
In short, I'm impatient, volatile, emotional, hypersensitive, and deeply vulnerable to criticism. Does this make me the worst candidate ever for a writing career, or what?
Maybe the problem is that I never wanted to be a writer. I did plenty of writing in my school years, even won some awards and scholarships. But the creative pursuit I chose for most of my life was performing arts. Now that makes sense with my temperament. But it wasn't what I wanted to spend my whole life doing, and it sure doesn't fit into my life now.
So what do I do? I feel the compulsion to write; the stories and characters are burning in the back of my brain. But I have very limited time and tolerance. Is there room in the writing process for someone like me? Can I develop some kind of hybrid method that will fit my personality and also produce good results?
I'll tell you what, If I can survive revising and publishing my first full-length work of fiction, then maybe the reading public can decide. In the meantime, I'd love to hear the thoughts of other writers on this subject: Is there such thing as the proper temperament for a writer, and what do we do if we don't have it? Comment, email, or tweet to me!
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