My writing process

| 18 Comments

When I first started writing, I truly embraced the creative side of the craft. A former project manager, yearning to break free, I told myself that writing is a creative endeavor that had no need for spreadsheets and plans and lists. I believed that to be truly creative and successful, I needed to just write. To free myself from boundaries and limitations. Creativity needs no organization, it must simply exist and flourish, boundless and beautiful.

Oh if I could go back to Tricia of three years ago. “No, Tricia. Hang onto those spreadsheets, Tricia. We have work to do.”

These days, I make lists and I keep spreadsheets. I make plans. I organize files and pages and resources.

And I write within it all.

These days, it’s going so much better.

I’m always interested in other writers’ processes. I sometimes read Wordswimmer, a blog by Bruce Black in which he likens writing to swimming (an analogy I’ve come to love). He regularly interviews writers about their process and I always learn something new by seeing how another person goes about their craft.

where the magic happens...

where the magic happens…

My process is a work in progress. I’ve finally created a weekly cycle that starts with planning. Each week on Thursday evenings I plan the week to come – the pieces I will write, the submissions or pitches that I plan to send. I decide on topics and I line it all up. Then, I plan out the week, slotting writing and editing and polishing and researching and scheduling and sending into the days of the week.

Saturday is terrible first draft day. I wake up before my babies and settle in with a cup of coffee and the words of some of my favorites. I let their words and heart and soul guide me to the place where my words rest, waiting to be discovered. Then, as the sun rises, I force the words through the cobwebs, through my sleepy fingers and onto my screen. I push through two to three posts this way, just typing right from my heart or my brain and letting the words fall where they may.

When the baby begins to cry and the preschooler shuffles to my side with sleepy eyes and messy hair, I close the computer. For the rest of the day, I put it all away. I may think through my words as I nurse the baby or drive to ballet class. I might even eek out another half hour while the rest of my family sleeps, but mostly, I put it all away. I let the words sit and settle.

Sunday morning brings more of the same. More seeking inspiration, more terrible first drafts. More letting the words sit and settle.

Monday rolls around and the editing begins. Sometimes I am surprised by how not-so-terrible my terrible first draft was – sometimes I change very little. Other times, I print out my work and can barely read my original words when I’m done for all of the scratching out and scribbling and moving of pieces. I’ve come to embrace editing as part of my process. I’ve started to enjoy it just a little bit, feeling comfortable in the changing and rearranging. I’ve found freedom in letting go of phrases that sounded so perfect on Saturday morning but just don’t do what they need to on Tuesday night. I remember once hearing a quote about sculpting – that the final creation is in that giant block of stone, just waiting to be freed. I think of my final drafts this way too. They are there, in my mess of words and poorly contracted phrases and raw emotion, just waiting to break free into smooth, refined curves. Telling myself that the final draft, the one that will make me happy, is in there, helps me push through.

And then, as the week goes on, I publish and I send. From my desk, deep breaths and clicks intertwine to create the soundtrack to my week. Take a deep breath, here goes, godspeed brave words, and click.

It’s been a few months and this process is working for me, so far. I’m curious to see how it changes and morphs around my children’s changing schedules, my own efficiencies realized, my growing comfort with writing and editing and moving words and phrases. But for now, it works.

What is your writing process? Do you plan and organize and list? How have you grown comfortable with the various tasks of writing?

18 Comments

  1. It’s funny because for my own blog my process is a lot less organized and more of a fly by the seat of my pants thing. When I do guesting (like for you!), I have a process that occurs the second I agree to it. I start brainstorming and making notes in my app on my phone. Then comes scribbled notes. Then I combine them in a draft on my computer and that’s still on phase 1. I think I’m a work in progress too.
    Tamara recently posted..Eleven Freakin’ Months.My Profile

    • I totally make notes on my phone and in scribbles too. I always hear that writers should always keep a notepad and pen with them at all times. But I tend to just use my phone. Such a poor, overworked little device!

  2. How I love “Take a deep breath, here goes, godspeed brave words, and click.” This is so true!

    I have many of the same feelings about editing – sometimes I am surprised to discover that my first draft wasn’t as rough as I thought.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..At NightMy Profile

  3. I love your process and I love how you allow yourself a “terrible first draft” day. Once I gave myself permission to “suck,” I got much further with my writing process. And I am going to let your spreadsheet inspire me. I need a little more organization!
    Ilene recently posted..Use Your WordsMy Profile

  4. I love this post…it is always inspiring to see how others processed writing. Thank you for letting us take a peek into your writing world. :)
    Writing from the heart is something I am trying to do more lately. It’s sporadic really just whenever I could sit down and write, I’d scribble something be on a notebook or on the computer.
    Maureen@ScoopsofJoy recently posted..Nannyless And HappyMy Profile

    • Writing from the heart is tough and I struggled at first. There is a vulnerability there that is scary but so empowering.

  5. oh wow. you have just got me thinking about my own (lack of) process. And inspired me to reflect, develop, change, improve what’s going on here. I’m pulling back in other areas of my life this summer. I’m not teaching, very little doula-ing, very little pro photography stuff. I haven’t told anyone else this….but…part of the reason for doing that is YES, to reconnect with my family–but I’m wanting to focus on writing more. I need organization! Now, I need to check that other writer’s blog you mentioned. As always, thanks for this post. xo.
    sarah @sundayspill recently posted..Because Everything Feels Lighter At PresentMy Profile

    • Love that you’re pulling back, summer is so the time for it! (And you have had a busy spring!). We can focus on our writing together :)

  6. Wow. Just wow. I love the insight into how the process works for you – the writing, the editing… I can’t say I’ve every thought about my own (dearth of) process – which might explain a LOT of my blogging blahs here recently. What a great post – thank you!!
    nerdmommathfun recently posted..Playing in water – the best laid plans…My Profile

  7. I wish I had this kind of discipline, but my writing process is mainly pushing up against deadlines, sitting down and writing it out. That’s it. I would love to be more organized and make it more a part of my scheduled week.
    Greta recently posted..The Beauty of Journaling #giveawayMy Profile

    • It took me quite a while to get here to a process. And mostly it was a frustration at not seeing myself move far enough fast enough for my own liking. I figured a plan couldn’t hurt and just might help ;)

  8. I enjoy the heck out of watching writers as they grow beyond what they once were. It is tremendous you found your way… my way changes… probably the only thing that remains is my practice of keeping an “unpolished gem” file of “terrible drafts” to return to later. Sometimes I actually do… sometimes a year later!

    Your writing space is pristine. I think mine looked similar to that for fifteen seconds after I bought my new desk.

    Happy SITSSharefest!
    Julie Jordan Scott recently posted..Free Flow Writing: A “Magic Trick” of Not Only Higher Quantity of Words and Also a Higher Quality of WordsMy Profile

    • :) haha. Well that desk is only a few weeks old actually. And it’s become more and more cluttered each day. But thank you :) I love that you return to terrible first drafts – that’s inspiring!

  9. You are so organized! Mine is a bit more sporadic! I tend to write in short bursts in the morning and write scattered notes during the afternoons. I love the idea of setting aside time to think of and plan out ideas. I love reading this type of post. We should all share our writing habits more often.
    Jessica Smock recently posted..Reassessing Happiness Research: Are New Parents Really That Miserable?My Profile

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