Asking the question what makes you a writer? last week has led me to think more about what, and how, I write. Seeing others discuss word counts and editing and targets has made me wonder more about process. How do I write? and am I doing it right?!
Yesterday I came across this quote:
What is the best way to write? Each of us has to find her own way by writing. Writing
teaches writing. No one can tell you your own secret.
It really resonated with me; like a lot of things in life there is no one way to write. There are techniques to be learnt, processes to sharpen; continuous development. But there is no real right, or wrong, as to how to go about it.
While I compare (and berate) myself, wonder if I’m doing it ‘right’ and feel that perhaps I should be following some prescribed pattern; really, I should just be getting on with it, and writing!
So, how do I write?
I am great at to-lists, at noting down ideas and thoughts (haphazardly, admittedly!) and planning ahead for the blog; I am absolutely rubbish at actually getting anything done unless I have a deadline! A self-imposed one will do, but I have to have a deadline. Or I faff spectacularly and procrastinate with the best of them.
Deadline in place, I will sit down (preferably with a cup of tea and silence, I can dream!) to write and invariably stare at a blank sheet of (virtual) paper; wondering what on earth possessed me to set (or agree to) the deadline.
I need that first sentence, those elusive opening words. Without them I am lost in a sea of random thoughts and slippery ideas that I just can’t quite catch.
But, once I get that sentence? Then, I write. And it flows. Often in an entirely different direction than I thought it would. My perspective will shift; words will form themselves into unexpected sentences, paragraphs will develop a life of their own.
I write quickly, rarely spending more than an hour or so on a post. I polish, but I don’t over edit; if I work and re-work too often I find that I lose the essence of what I was saying; the words become dull, clichéd and safe.
I often wonder where inspiration comes from. When I sit down to write, with nothing but a headline, the vaguest of ideas; where do I find the words?
I still feel inordinately pleased, and surprised, when a poem materialises in front of me. I take great satisfaction in an opinion piece taking shape, as the argument flows with focus and sense. A grin will spread across my face as I recall a special day or a recent adventure and the narrative dances across the page, capturing the feelings and fun and memories.
I certainly feel the need to hone my skills; to work on my style, sharpen my voice, to leave my comfort zone more often and stretch myself; to justify my bold (presumptuous?!) statement that I am a writer.
But, I am going to do all that by writing. I am going to teach myself; through hard work, determination and practice. I am going to read, read and read some more. I am going to try new things. I am going to welcome comment, embrace criticism, learn from failure.
And I am going to enjoy it. I am going to find my own secret.
How do you write? Do you have a process, rituals? Or do you just play it by ear and see what happens?