Welcome to another mentee’s process of writing. To refresh your memory, I am a mentor in RWA’s Pen to Paper program and Diana is one of my mentees. I had the privilege of meeting Diana in person when she ended up in Seattle and made the trek to Puyallup for lunch! We had a wonderful visit. I am so proud of the progress she’s made. As the readers of my blog know because most of are writers. Diana is an awesome mentee, (see how many times I use the word mentee? I will not delete) and I am thrilled to be her debut presenter. I am pleased to introduce: Diana Fulton.

My Writing Rules

RULE #1: Only writing is writing. Researching is not writing. Editing is not writing. Thinking under your warm comforter is not writing. Frequenting Thesaurus.com is not writing. Cleaning your desk, making coffee, ordering the perfect pen or fuzzy slippers is not writing. If you’re spending four hours ‘writing’ and only get fifty words on the page, re-read the above.

Every writer’s process is different. The only constant are words on the page. It doesn’t matter whether you write at 2 am, during your lunch break, on a jostling train or on a Perigold executive desk in your home office in the Hamptons. Cue: crashing waves and seagulls. Sigh. It only matters that you write.

RULE #2: Write every day. Personally, I’m a streaker. Occasional nudity involved. Once upon a time, I set a goal to write 30 minutes every day for 30 days. Those 30 days turned into 90 days which turned into three years and counting. The rules are simple. During writing time, I only write. My phone is beyond reach. My preferred caffeinated beverage is within reach. If I need to find a better word or research important concepts like the name of an expensive brand of desk (see above), I type three asterisks that can easily be searched in the editing/researching/procrastinating part of my day.

Shitty words count. I can return later to remove the stench, or mercilessly delete. Writing about how much I hate writing or cleaning the toilet also counts. As long as I’m actually writing. No word is a waste, even if later it’s spat upon and thrown in the vicinity of the trash can. But sometimes, magic happens. A good sentence. Words that make me pause and think, Wow. I wrote that. And that’s what gets my butt in the chair the next day. And the next.

AMENDMENT #1A: Dictating counts as writing. Last year, I committed to friends and family that I would complete a novel during NaNoWriMo. I plotted the book beforehand, cleaned my toilets, stocked my refrigerator, and canceled appointments. I was ready. On October 25th, I shattered my wrist while playing contact pickleball. I physically could not write. Finally, a legitimate excuse to set aside my writing and take a break. But I’m a streaker, remember? I couldn’t break my streak or sanity might descend and I’d never return to the hell/heaven of writing. So I modified my rule and used the voice memo feature of my iPhone to dictate 80k+ words in November. The streak continued.

RULE #3: Attitude Adjustment. As a world-class whiner, I lamented daily about the woes of writing. Words from award-winning author Kathy L Wheeler made me rethink my sad self-talk. She says, I get to write. Not, I have to write. She gets to do what she loves. As do I. Nobody cares if I toss my half-completed novel in the trash. I get to write. As do you, fellow writer.

Bio: Diana Fulton is a protegee in RWA’s Pen to Paper program and is currently writing her first novel. She has three grown daughters. After years in a successful legal profession, she has given that up to travel the land as a bit of a nomad, taking in the experiences and living life on her terms.