Trust the Process - How to Declutter Your Outlook on Writing
Procrastination is writing this blog. It’s the days it’s taken me to sit in front of this computer and actually put something down in type. It’s finally not taking myself for granted or too serious. It’s understanding, among other things, that writing is a process, and that while we can be fooled into thinking we’re not doing enough or doing too much, there really is no hard and fast rule to writing other than to be honest with yourself. Here are some tips that might help keep you on track.
First and foremost, and I know it may come as a hardy blow, not everything you write is awesome. Your ideas might be awesome, that one character might be awesome, the sudden plot twist you have in chapter two might be awesome, or that imagery of the sun in the second verse, awesome, but not all of it together. That’s not to say there aren’t “Holy Grails” in writing that just magically take all form to beauty, but, more often than not, your writing will be flawed, and this can be daunting to sit down and really think about.
What you don’t want is to let this stop you from hitting the page. Make a practice of your writing. Make it habitual. The less we dramatize our writing and the more we make it about form and function, the easier writing actually becomes. If we can put our writing in perspective and understand not all of it needs to be written today or that any or all of it will be good, we can shed the fear of making mistakes and actually get moving.
A musician friend of mine, in talking about the creative process for his music, once told me the initial outpouring of thoughts and ideas is what many refer to as the “pure” or “spiritual” parts of creating art. The editing, fine-tuning, and revising of a piece is what makes it human and tangible. I like to think about this every time I sit down to write and think editing isn’t writing.
Editing is writing. Period. Whether you delete 1,000 words or go back through something you’ve written to bring out the five senses, writing is writing is writing. It’s all part of a creative process that can sometimes seem overwhelming until you break it down. If all else fails, there’s the tried and true methods of setting a timer and writing for ten to twenty minutes every single day uninhibited or buying a creative writing notebook with prompts to keep things fresh and new.
Whatever the method, be sure they fit best with your lifestyle and interests, but don’t shy away from a good challenge every now and then. Maybe you write short stories only from the first-person perspective and want to change things up. Write a story in the second person, or entirely out of dialogue.
Looking at writing as pieces’ parts of a process helps eliminate a lot of the stress that comes with the territory. Of course, it’s going to seem intimidating, maybe even downright scary, to write a novel or a chapbook of poetry, especially if you’ve never written one before, but therein lies the beauty of untapped potential. You never know until you try. All those preconceived notions of what might happen melt away into what happens when we apply ourselves in the present moment.