Life has themes and seasons and writing has shown up as one of mine at the moment. Everywhere I turn, I hear about the writing process of online women I adore. I checked the mail yesterday and discovered a beautiful deck of Spark cards, designed to inspire creative thought for writers. When I pull an oracle card from my Life Purpose deck I get either ‘Author’ or ‘Writing.’ Sometimes I select one and the other falls out, when the angels are being particularly hilarious.
I’m feeling a pull to write more. To keep honing, learning, opening myself up. To explore, often, through the written word. And I know lots of you are too.
Quick insights on how I write:
1 // I’ll dive further into my creative process in a future post (promise), but the snappy version here is that for years I employed the Edit As I Go method, which occasionally worked well for me but more often than not, resulted in me taking twice as long to get a piece of work together because I’d be stuck on that damn first paragraph – always backtracking, polishing, cutting and pasting, controlling the flow of the story.
2 // These days, I’ve befriended what Anne Lamott calls the Shitty First Draft, and I’m learning to tame my desire to ‘polish up’ in favour of ‘letting ideas flow uncensored.’ It’s not completely structure-less writing because I always know the gist of what I intend to write about, but it is about letting my creative essence grab the reins and seeing where I end up. Then editing. I gotta say, it’s infinitely more fun.
So, are you hankering to express yourself creatively? Great news, because I have a handful of thoughts on the topic. Read on, sista…
Know you have a story to tell. You are living that story right now.
Creation is vulnerable, and sometimes your heart will ache. If it does, let the words heal you. I want you to know that in the telling of your story – or should I say, stories, because every day we’re living them – you will be set free.
When it comes to your writing, it’s yours first and foremost, and ultimately it is up to you how deep/ light/ funny/ educational/ controversial/ poetic you go. Take comfort in that (aaaand… exhale) but also – here it comes – it would be remiss of me not to share that time and time again I hear, whether from clients or fellow online creators, that it’s the vulnerable stuff that garners the greatest connection. People want to feel like they’re not alone, and if you can be the lighthouse AND be open about the way you ‘do’ life, your audience will thank you for it.
Remember: we may not recall what someone said, but we always remember how they made us feel.
Set an intention.
Following on from the above, if you’re a blogger writing a blog post, think about how you want your readers to feel after reading it.
Write it at the top of the page: “I want people to feel joyful!” “I want this article to make them cry – in a good way.” “I want my tribe to walk away feeling informed about X.”
When you read it back from start to finish, does it do that for you?
Write, not right. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I’ve started doing Morning Pages (a la The Artist’s Way) regularly, which involves pouring three pages of unedited, raw, messy, un-pruned thoughts into my journal every morning before I start work.
Some of these pages end up bearing nuggets I can use for blog posts, which is fantastic and frankly, appreciated, while others simply make sense of something I’ve been mulling over. Also appreciated. The rest of them, though? Pure fluff ‘n’ randomness. It doesn’t really matter which version they are, but the showing up, putting pen to paper and committing to the process does. Flexing the ol’ ‘write daily’ muscle is addictive.
Are you ready, right here and now, to take a vow that you’ll silence your inner critic, create with wild abandon, and then, only then, once you’ve got the ugly, disjointed, Year 1 English out on the page… get to the editing? Is that a HELL YES I hear? (whatever your answer, know that I’m just hearing yes right now).
Meditate on it.
Clapped out creatively? Too overwhelmed to string a few words together and call it a sentence? Time to get still and wade into the beautiful, colourful, spirit-filled world of YOU.
The grand thing about meditation is that it allows you to tap directly into your soul power, especially in times of uncertainty and muck, so make it your mission to clear the decks and make space for new insights and ideas to bubble up. Ideas aren’t ‘out there.’ Go in.
Edit, with glee.
My favourite way to write a blog post is to shitty first draft it and polish just a little, leave it overnight, and come back the next day for the final cut, wax and shine.
Following that process* always makes me feel excited and competent, whereas rushing through and jerkily hitting Publish without so much as a proper proofread, leaves me feeling like the idea hasn’t had time to really percolate.
Hemingway said “Write drunk, edit sober.” I say “write recklessly, edit ruthlessly.” Preferably the next day.
* Update: Reading your lovely comments, I realised I wasn’t entirely clear here. SO with you on the punch-out-and-publish method – that’s me 90% of the time. But man does I feel virtuous the other 10% when I let a post marinate!
Read outside your niche.
Or preferred genre/ style. If you’re a self-help book devotee (two hands in the air), bury your nose in a good fiction novel every once in a while and take note of the way the story is crafted.
What is it about the way the author writes that made you forget you were reading?
And above all, don’t wait for the perfect conditions to start. Because, even if no one sees it, even if no one reads it, even if no one comments, retweets, likes/ shares/ shouts your brilliance from the rooftops, isn’t the most powerful fact that through the act of actually ‘doing the writing’ you have no choice but develop a deeper intimacy with yourself?
I love hearing about how others approach their writing/ blogging, so tell me, how do YOU do it? Share below.