Sometimes writing seems to me a fragile thing. The difference between writing well and writing poorly feels like a tightrope, and if I lose vigilance for even one second, I’ll forget how to balance and plunge off the line, screaming about how much I suck until I hit the ground. Don’t mistake this crazy sort of paranoia for modesty. It’s a real fear. Every writer can write like crap. You throw words out across the expanse, stringing them along over nothing, and you hope that they’re the right words, and that there will be enough of them to find the other side. Even when it’s going well, when everything links up and you steamroll along and think foolishly delightful things like "Oh it’s so easy!" it’s still an act of daring. So don’t let anyone look down at you when you pause to hyperventilate alongside the tracks. Just keep a paper bag handy.
My version of the paper bag is a set of carefully observed superstitions. For instance, when actively writing, I never read anything with too strong a style, and one that I could potentially imitate. Because I totally will. Examples of things I can’t imitate: Bret Easton Ellis. Milan Kundera. Both safe. Two, I never read anything that could be remotely considered my genre. Because then I’ll compare and that’s a trainwreck laced with hostess cupcakes just waiting to happen.
I think everybody has their own set of quirks and rules. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. Hey wait a minute, is that phrase dirty? Anyway, aside from the common denominator of striving to write well, we all do it differently. I average 2k per writing session. Some writers average less. Some average 12k, and holy shit they’re going to put out seven books a year and I’m only going to manage one or two and that means they’re supreme rulers of the writing universe and I suck intensely! Nope. Although 12k is impressive and sometimes I do suck intensely, it just means we differ.
I love to hear about other people’s processes. It’s fascinating. I like to hear where ideas came from, and how problems get solved. But it’s good to remember that there is no normal writing. There’s just writing. We get on with it.