I’ve been quilting now for over 10 years. At first, I took a couple of quilting classes. Step by step, an instructor showed me how to make each different quilt. I started small with a wall hanging of 3 patches. Then I made a tabletop quilt of only 4 patches.
After that, I made baby quilts.
After making several quilts at classes, I decided to try to make one at home without a teacher. I got stuck a couple of times, but I had some quilting friends so asked them for advice. It was a success!
From then on, I made quilts at home. I always used patterns and followed the instructions carefully.
The quilt in this picture here is a quilt that for the first time ever, I’m creating without a pattern.
I used the Crazy Nine Patch pattern in the center. But around the center I added strips I sewed together. And then around the whole edge of the quilt, I sewed on Prairie Points as the edging. I even created a fun design on the back (which you can’t see in this picture).
Writing is like quilting. When you’re starting out, it may feel like you’re using a formula. Put plots points in chapter 5, 10, and 15. Write scenes that start with dialogue and end with a cliffhanger. Interview our character and find out what her favorite colors and favorite desserts are.
Formula writing is okay. You have to start somewhere.
I’ve sat in conferences and read writing posts that tell you not to use formulaic writing. But for beginning writers or learning how to write in a genre that’s new for you, I think it’s good to learn how to write using a successful formula that has worked for others.
Then, gradually, as the formula becomes part of you, it becomes more intuitive. You can step away from the formula and use a more organic approach because you’ve LEARNED the basics about plot or setting or dialogue or character development.
The key is to just keep writing manuscript after manuscript after manuscript, improving your skills more each time and learning more about the formulas found in writing until your work improves and you grow as a writer.
I started out writing using various formulas. And I got published, too. Many smaller presses are okay working with beginning writers.
I still like to use formulaic writing today as I’m experimenting with a genre that’s new to me or trying to improve my craft in a certain area. But as I write manuscript after manuscript using a particular formula, the formula starts to fade into the background and a unique voice emerge in my stories.
So now, I’m starting to connect with the bigger publishers. It’s an exciting place to be. And it all started out following formulas.