Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Process of Writing

I’m always curious what the writing process is for other writers. Do they wake up before the sun and write first thing in the morning? Do they stay up past midnight on writing binges until they can’t keep their eyes open? Do they have a creative process that helps them get into writing, like collaging or painting? The responses often fascinate me. 

It is amazing what people do for their art. I have friends who are up writing at 4 AM and love it. Others listen to nature sounds to become inspired. Others can only write for short bursts of time, and then need to do something active to get their creative juices flowing again. All these methods are so much cooler and more artistic than mine. 

I tried doing the early morning thing, taking advantage of a quiet house, no one waiting on me to do something for them, the light bright enough to type but not create a glare on my laptop. It was nice the first time I did it. It was OK the second time. By the third time I was a groggy, grouchy mess and realized that even for the love of writing, I am not a morning person.

I was a Fine Arts - Drawing minor in college. In fact, my high school art teacher pushed and pushed for me to go to art school for college but I wasn't brave enough to apply. I like to sketch so you’d think that I’d somehow incorporate it into my writing process – perhaps sketch my characters or their house or something. Uh, no. I don’t do any drawing in conjunction with my writing. 

I take photos all the time. They are usually with my phone and not very good, but they could be a means of exercising my creativity to give myself a visual aid in writing. I don’t do that either. 

My process is boring and simple but it works for me. Here it is: I write when I can. I force it when I must. 

I don’t have that much time to sit and write so when I get a few minutes here, an hour there, I use it to write. I can’t wait to feel inspired. I don’t want to take from that time by doing anything else, even if it is artistic. I get in front of my computer and I get going, even if I know the words aren't working as they come out of me, I let them be. My goal is not to write perfectly, my goal is to write. Getting the words out is half the battle. Once I get them out, I can revise them and make them work but there’s nothing to work on if the words aren't there. 

When I had to write for grad school deadlines I found a lot more pockets of writing time than I do now, but I am slowly moving writing into more spaces. Even when I feel like I have exhausted every story that can possibly come out of me, I read an old story and can usually pick up where I left off. Sometimes I have to jump to a part of my story that hasn't happened yet but I know the scene will get me going, so I write it and park it in my file for that story. Sometimes reading my old work is all that I have time to do, correcting punctuation or grammar along the way. I have to accept that because at least I was engrossed in story for a little while. It may have been brief and not as productive as I’d want, but I still feel like I fed my craft and that pacifies me. 

I make sacrifices for my writing – from working three part-time jobs vs. one full-time job so I have a more flexible schedule, to choosing to write above other activities like going out with friends, or catching up on the latest Netflix craze. I have refused invitations to events because I knew that was the only pocket of time I’d have in that week to write, and I have pawned my kid off on others so I could go home and write. I am beyond lucky that everyone in my life is supportive of my writing. I can’t imagine it would be possible without that support.

Of course I schedule time to write as well. I set aside time to remove myself from everyone, leave my phone in another room, sit at the computer and go until my next commitment. This does not happen at times when I feel like story is flowing, or when I feel at my most creative. It is when I force myself to write because that’s that time I have to do it. This is my process, no matter how boring or uninspiring it is. And as long as it works, I’ll keep doing what I need to do to get my words on a page.

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