My book is writing itself. By that, I don’t mean it’s easy, far from it. In fact, it can be downright frustrating – not to mention terrifying. But I am reminded, so often now, to trust my process. Not just any process but my process. Because my process is as unique to me as yours is to you – even if you don’t know exactly what yours is yet.
In observing the experiences of the wonderful writers I work with – I’m finding that part of the journey in being (or becoming) a writer is finding our own unique way. A ‘process’ is anything that gets our books, blogs or articles written – whilst leaving us in the best possible shape.
Sometimes that shape might feel very rocky.
Who am I to think I can do this?
Who will want to read my words?
But if that’s all we’ve got in that moment – then it also happens to be the best we’ve got full stop. Or is it?
Much like life, sometimes I might have more – I just don’t realise it until I nudge myself that little bit harder – and I end up getting a lot done. But sometimes it really is all I’ve got. And berating and hounding myself, just makes things worse. I may get a few more words down – but tired and grumpy, I’ll likely have to re-do it all anyway.
Saying that I am the proverbial night owl; launching into a frenzy of creativity when it would perhaps be more prudent to sleep. I also have a certain notoriety for ‘leaving things’ until the last minute, and there is a tangible increase in my completion energy when a deadline looms. I have tried many times to change this within myself. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just the way I work; that part of my job, as a writer, is to work to my strengths, whilst also putting in place strategies to help me manage my perceived weaknesses.
In short, I am learning to trust my process – rather than fight against it. I am discovering why the 2 am handwriting splurge is beneficial, but also why the mother-in-me sometimes needs to step in, and close the computer before the day is done.
I seem to work best when I separate my creative, organisational, and editorial minds – and often my early drafts are written in a very piecemeal fashion. If I try and plan out too much (or at all) the result can often be one of huge resistance and very low productivity.
For the first draft of At the Cross Roads: Exploring Motherhood (my memoir / self-growth book)I seem to be developing a process that embraces ‘in-the-moment creativity & flow’. This uncensored writing, which can happen at any time and place, later fuels the more methodical & disciplined hours, I need to get my chapters written.
How I wrote this blog post – is a great example of my emerging process.
I embraced an ‘unplanned creative download’ – producing rough, handwritten notes late one night. I then lost the notes under a mass of paperwork, and completely forgot the ideas I’d had.
In sorting all the papers – weeks later I found the rough notes and made a start on typing them up. The ‘mother-in-me’ decided NOT to burn the midnight oil. And so, I continued writing & editing the next day. Before accepting that what I’d created was ‘good enough’
In between switching off the computer for the day and finishing the next morning, I did add a few handwritten notes, to allow my brain to download ideas. But ironically most of those have actually formed the start of the next blog, and so my process continues.
Was I quick at writing this piece? No.
Have I completed it? Yes.
Am I pleased to have finished it? Yes.
Have I refined my process? Yes. I now have a folder to put all my ’unplanned creative downloads’ into. AND I am IN trust – just that little bit more.
Am I nervous of what people will think? Of course! As writers beginning to share our words and ideas with the world, aren’t we all?
But, finding our own unique process – experimenting, falling down, picking ourselves back up, injecting some fun or facing the inner void – to me is about thriving as a writer (on many levels) not simply surviving. And the more we do it, surely the better we’ll get.
So, how much do you embrace your process? And what can you do to discover and trust it even more?
Remember, it isn’t always easy – but it is worthwhile – keep writing and discover the story in you.
Next time … Turning our creative-writerly taps on, and recognising when to turn them off.
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