The Process

The question of process has been coming up a lot lately, so I’ve been thinking about it.

  • What’s your process?
  • What’s your writing process?
  • What’s the workshop process?
  • What’s the meaning of life?

Well, I think they’re all pretty much the same. Most of us writers have to write. We do it because we love it. We do it because it’s like breathing. We do it because it gives meaning to our lives. I’m sure there are as many other answers as there are people answering the questions.

My writing process? Generally? I write everyday. I’m what some call a “pantser.” That means I often don’t work with an outline. Instead, I take a journey through the first draft of a work without knowing where I’m going. So far, it’s worked out fairly well. This is one of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo so much each November. The true practice of starting on November 1st with a blank page and writing everyday until you reach 50,000 words. Hopefully, before November 30th. I accomplished that goal again this year. Bully for me!

Then, I read what I’ve written and create an outline. That’s when I see if what I’ve done is working or not. If I’ve wandered too hopelessly down a dark alley. And, based on that review, I revise and revise and revise. Finally…

I workshop. I love the workshop. I follow the MFA version, more or less. A group of people come together on a regular basis, every Wednesday, for instance. The attendees read a few pages of their work aloud and the others in the room offer their feedback and critique–some of it written on the page, some of it verbal. So much is learned throughout the workshop process.

  • We learn about our own work by reading it aloud;
  • We learn more by hearing the thoughts and reactions of others to our work;
  • We learn so much by choosing the feedback that we want to incorporate into the revisions;
  • We also learn by hearing the work of others;
  • We learn by offering feedback, both written and verbal;
  • And, we also learn how to show up.

And, that’s what it’s really all about. That is the foundation, the meaning of life…we have to show up. We have to do the work. We have to participate.

So, whether there are others in the room or I’m alone for a few hours at the workshop space, I show up. I write every day. I read my work. I revise. I offer feedback. I support the work others are doing as I support and nurture my own work as a writer, as an artist.

I show up.

Daily Practice

I spend time each day writing. It’s really the only way, the only option. If you want to be a writer you have to write. And, you have to write a lot. And, I believe, you have to write every day.

Okay, so I’m not perfect. There are days I skip showing up at the keyboard. I create excuses on some of those days. On others, I give myself a hard time and then move on to other things.

Still, the goal is to show up daily. The goal is to make writing a priority in our lives. And, the goal is to write a lot so we have material to edit and revise. That’s where the “real” writing happens. In the revision. In the selecting of the perfect word, the best verb. It’s where the layers get added and often the senses and emotional stakes.

The truth for me is that I also feel better after I’ve written for the day. When I hit my word counts or time goals (or best of all, both!) a weight is lifted from me. I feel like I can head into the remains of the day with a clear conscious. I’ve done it, put words on the screen. Added to the story. Created something new and fresh and original. Sure, it might all be edited away tomorrow, but today, the words are on the page.

This is why I write early in the day. Before email and social media, before phone calls or chores. I show up, write my words, and then move into the rest of the day (ah, a repetition that will either be deleted in the future or enhanced somehow to add depth of meaning…)

What’s your daily practice? Your writing ritual?