• Julie Gray

What's Your Writing Process?

I secretly hate it (read: am jealous) when writers (always successful ones) talk about "their process". Doesn't the word "process" annoy you slightly? Doesn't it make writing sound sort of precious somehow? Man, if I had a process that doesn't include banging my head on the desk and snacking too much and procrastinating, I'd share it with you but I don't!

What do we even mean about "process", what are we even REFERRING to?

Okay but let's try to break it down: Process refers to the recipe you use for writing. What do you do first? Second? Do you stir quickly, slowly, do you need baking powder? What series of actions help you with your writing.

Now when I mean writing I mean everything from:

Having an idea

thinking through the idea

writing the story/article

editing your work

Process is deeply individual and unique. All writers have a process - a way they approach their writing and often it's quite unconscious. It's fun to take it out and talk about it though, so see if your process differs from or is similar to those of your peers, to see if there's something you can try.

For most writers, the very beginning inspiration almost always comes down to something you saw/read/heard that struck you as funny, interesting or strange. You file it in your mind. Then later you see/read/hear something else - and the two come together. Or sometimes a third thing. A fragment. And your brain sort of catches these little bits and bobs.

Here are a few bugaboos that can happen:

Catching a fragment for an idea - and forgetting it.

Having fragments come together as an inspiration - and not writing it.

...and that last one is THE most common thing.

Really, how can your process be wrong - it's YOUR process. It's like asking in which order you wash your body and hair in the shower - it doesn't matter as long as you get clean and you're happy with that. But there might be something someone else is doing that you just hadn't thought of and that could improve your positive feelings about writing.

Thinking about your process is a good idea to do, once in awhile. Why? Because you can take inventory of what is working, what might work better and you can also ask if this process is really resulting in WRITING.

Tools to help your process:

*Keep a small notebook and pen, a way to "catch" ideas and inspirations. Often, fragments come together over time.

*Keep your notes separated into different categories.

1) You might be drawn to a particular leitmotif (set of connected visuals or themes)... like you love the color red and it's implications of violence or passion or passionate violence - you might even keep a folder or scrapbook of images that are red that just - do something to your creative brain.

2) You might keep a list of words that just grab you - expressions, foreign words or phrases.

3) Jot down, under a fragment, what struck you about that. Loneliness? Isolation? What ABOUT that fragment got you going?

4) Start a folder on your computer, if that is more comfortable or you, to keep your ideas. Every fragment is useful, if it tickles something in you, keep it. Mind mapping is a software to help you stay organized. Or just a plain ol' notebook you keep with you.

But mostly - embrace your "process" whatever it looks like. Try to enjoy the very process itself - of thinking, procrastinating, long writing jags, dry spells - all of it. If writing were so easy, everybody would do it.

Share your "process" on The Fabulists. Or minimally - procrastinate in style! Writers looking for an editor, coach and story analyst, drop me a line!