I always feel a bit of a lightweight—a little “woowoo”–here at TSM as I rarely write about the craft. I’m passionate about process, you see. For me, that’s the essence of the writing life. The means by which the brain produces a creative thought and the way we get it onto paper holds endless fascination for me. How do we do this thing that we do? How can we do it better?
The process—the writing habit—is what makes us writers, and it is as unique to the individual as a fingerprint. It is something we can nurture and fine-tune. At the same time, it falls under the “don’t think about it, just do it” category.
A fellow Creative Monsters Challenge participant shared a paragraph from his journal that perfectly sums up my feelings on process. He kindly gave me permission to quote him:
“The first text you need to compose is your writing process. All your other texts will follow from that one, so craft it carefully. Your writing can’t succeed until you teach yourself how to show up. Your process is a memory device; it tells you how you go about composing, and gives you a map for how to create. Your map shows the path you’ve used before and gives you the confidence that you can do it again. Without the map, you’re relying on luck or hope that you can find your way; with it you have landmarks showing where your intentions and words have gathered in the past, and where you can return to meet them again. Remember the ways you got stuck and where you go to find yourself again. Remember what feels easy and strong. Remember what gives you direction and power when you feel your confidence failing you. Remember where you go to remind yourself why this matters to you.” ~Michael Robinson
Writing doesn’t have to be done daily. It doesn’t have to be done in the morning. Some writers’ processes don’t work like that. But it does need to be consistent. Outliner, pantser, daily writer, weekend writer, slow or fast, morning or night—these are just different ways we describe process.
There are no right or wrong writing/creative processes. You can improve upon your natural inclinations if you so choose, and chances are you’ll stumble across other writers who have similar methods, but you can’t do it wrong, as long as you’re doing it.
Writers are quick to identify common ground. “What? You do that, too? I thought I was the only one!” Resistance, fear, sloggy middles, we recognize these things. We don’t write for fear that we’ll write crap, and yet we need to write crap to learn, grow, and improve. Yes, there are common elements, but they aren’t the whole of our process. Celebrating our individual differences is a great way to support each other.
I care very much about supporting other writers (and their processes).
There is so much to what we do. There’s craft, mechanics, structure, rhythm, character, plot, arc, revision, edits, and more. They are all important. But we start with process. Process is the first “rubber meets road” event in the journey of writing.
I’ll keep writing about process, not only because it fascinates me, but because I want it to fascinate you, too.
Whether you write for yourself or a wider audience, your process matters.