How to Write: The 3 Hats Every Writer Wears

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I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never sat down and stared blankly at a screen. I’ve never felt the need to do something else instead of write.

I don’t think I have any special ability. I believe the reason is because I know exactly what hat I’m wearing.

hat noun, used to refer to a particular role or occupation of someone who has more than one. — Source Apple Dictionary

I know I have a dad hat, another for being a hubby and many different hats in my businesses.

The trick is to know what hat you are wearing and to not wear the wrong hat. I know from experience being “hubby” doesn’t work while I’m still wearing my “CEO hat.” And my kids don’t respond or enjoy my company if I don’t have my “Dad” hat on.

Understanding this concept of hats early in my writing career, I identified 3 different hats I wear when writing a book. As long as I know the hat I’m wearing and don’t mix them up, the writing process is smooth, easy and fun.

The hats of a writer are:

1. The Writer or Creator
2. The Reader
3. The Private Editor

The Writer or Creator

The writing process, be it fiction or nonfiction, is a creative process. While I am The Writer, I let the ideas flow. I don’t care about spelling, grammar, punctuation or even if I’m making any sense. Those jobs belong to the other hats. My job as The Writer is to get the ideas out of my head and into written form.

The process of writing starts from one idea and flows to the next. It’s a natural process with ideas combining into new ideas, each one giving birth to the next. You’ll never arrive at the end idea unless you let that process occur naturally, creatively, and without a care about what anyone will think about your idea, or if anyone will buy your idea, or even if the idea makes any sense. It’s a birthing process, and just like childbirth, it must be allowed to flow naturally, without intervention or interruption, until it is finished.

When the ideas stop flowing and you’ve written all you want to write, it’s time to switch hats.

The Reader

 Typical page after it’s been attacked by  The Reader  (my  Rich Habits  book )

Typical page after it’s been attacked by The Reader (my Rich Habits book )

When changing from The Writer to the The Reader, I often print out my manuscript and go to a different place other than my desk. It might be a cafe, a park or even the couch. This break between switching hats helps clear my mind.

Typical page after it’s been attacked by The Reader (my new Rich Habits book due out October 2017)

I then sit down with a blue pen, my manuscript, and blank pieces of paper and I read. My manuscript is printed with double-spaced lines so I can easily make corrections. As I read, I notice obvious typos and circle them. I correct grammar, add punctuation and emphasis where required. If an idea strikes me, I’ll quickly switch back to The Writer and let it flow, using my blank sheets. I make a note in the manuscript where the new idea needs to be inserted.

As The Reader, I also might change the flow, rearrange parts or delete entire sections.

By the time I’m done being The Reader, my manuscript is dogeared, full of scribbles and food stains. Now it’s time to move onto the next hat.

The Private Editor

This hat is simple. I make all the corrections and changes highlighted in my manuscript. Using a red pen, I put a big line through each correction on my manuscript so I know I’ve done it. I type up any new ideas exactly as I’ve written them. Once everything is done, I’ll throw that manuscript in the bin and start the entire process again.

That’s how I write.

I never force myself to be The Writer if I’ve got nothing to say.

I usually have a general outline of a book and of the ideas I want to convey.

I never set a target on the number of words I must write. I just write, read and edit and repeat the process until the job is done.

Then I send it off to a professional editor who makes sure there ain’t no words spelled wrong and the grammar is good and proper and stuff — like this sentence. 😀

Simple, eh?

Give it a try. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Hit the heart if you like it.

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