The Writing Process

16 Oct

Starting this blog has made me really question my own writing process as well as that of others. It’s been much more difficult than I imagined!

I knew writing a blog wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but I truly had no idea how much it would challenge me. And this is only the beginning! I look at all of the blogs I read on a daily basis and wonder how they manage to pull it off. And what keeps people reading?

I’ve always done better with a deadline. I don’t consider this procrastination of course because I will work on something right away. However, it doesn’t truly start to come together until that deadline is pushing me to get words on paper. This makes for interesting writing when you’re doing a blog so the deadline is, perhaps, every single day. I’ve also always been better at writing in big blocks of time. It takes me awhile to really get the creative juices flowing so sitting down when I only have 30 minutes, or even an hour, has never produced much for me. Again, this creates an interesting process when I’m writing blogs that are dated and timely. I’m going to share a little secret… many times I write several blogs at once, even if the day has already passed. It feels better to get that off my chest. It felt like a dirty little secret there for a while. But I recently came to the conclusion that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the way I work. I can still write things as if they are just getting ready to happen or just happened. I have the ability to bring myself back to that time and space and really capture the moment. It might not be ideal, but somehow I make it work.

And then there’s the issue of my writing space. Currently I’m writing at home in a chair in my living room with my laptop on my legs. Buddy has managed to wiggle himself into a corner of the chair between the arm and myself. And here’s the problem…. I adore this dog and he gives me inspiration, but he is also a terrible distraction. Buddy thinks his soul purpose in life is to alert me to every little happening in the neighborhood. A bird. A plane. Another dog. A car door slamming. A friend has a joke about him even barking because he hears a bunny fart. I swear it’s true. So, many times I find it impossible to really get quality writing done at home with the distractions.

Buddy looking over my laptop

He can't stand to not be the center of attention... even if it's just my laptop

Then there’s a matter of setting the mood. There’s always coffee or, sometimes lately, tea involved when I sit down to write. It’s like it serves as some sort of signal to my brain to get focused. Can you say pumpkin spice latte? Yes please! For this reason, I love going to Starbucks or Barnes and Noble for marathon writing sessions. Of course in this case, my marathon is about 4 hours before I get so fidgety I have to move. I’ve been known to move from Starbucks for breakfast, to Panera for lunch, and then back to Starbucks for some afternoon decaf. Of course these places can be distracting as well, but with my headphones in and a latte at my side, I’m go for launch.

Starbucks logo

Yes please!

I’ve been this way about writing for the past several years, all throughout trying to finish my master’s degree, but not until I began this process did I really start to pay attention. If I’m going to make writing something I want to do, rather than something I must do, I think it’s important to look at my creative process and constantly look at ways to challenge or improve myself.

I was talking to a coworker who works with us part time and free-lances with the rest of her time and it’s interesting to hear the various ways people write. She was telling me about an editor she had once who would stare at a blank page until she had the perfect first sentence. The perfect one. Sometimes this would take her over an hour. So she sat there. Staring at a blank computer screen. Then it would come to her and she was off to the races. We both thought this was a little nuts.

Then she told me about her own writing and how she always finds it helpful to get something on the page. Regardless of what it is. So, for instance, if she is writing an article from a press release she will copy and paste the press release onto her new document, just so she has something to start with. Then she’ll start with various pieces of the release and fill in the holes until she really gets going. At that point she can complete her article without second thought to the press release, which originally got her started. This seemed like a good idea to the both of us.

After our conversation, though, I got to thinking about how I get words on a page and I realize that I’m actually a combination of the both of these women. Often times I’ll think of a topic for a blog post while I’m in the shower, in the car, or on a run. That’s when I often think of the great title or a catchy opening sentence and once I have that, the rest just seems to fall into place. When this doesn’t happen, I sit down and just start writing random thoughts to get something on paper. Many times this isn’t anywhere close to paragraph form and what follows is a lot of jumping around until somehow a final piece comes together. At times this feels completely unfocused and a bit like ADD. I’ve had many blog posts start one way, only to end up in an entirely different direction in an entirely new post. But it gets done.

And I guess that’s the bottom line. It gets done. And most of the time its not just a “wow, I barely got through that one”, it’s something that’s actually pretty good. I find it fascinating to read about the creative process with other people and I’ll take all of the tips and tricks anyone has to offer, but in the end I’m me and I’m going to stop thinking that my way is the wrong way to get it done. That’s why we call it the creative process, no?

Some interesting reads I’ve found on the topic:

Write to Done
The Healing Power of Creativity
The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People
The Little But Really Useful Guide to Creativity
50 Creative Questions to Create the Life you Really Want

Love and creativity,
Amy

Let’s chat: What’s your creative process? What things help you “get in the zone”?

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