I’m finding this month’s blog hard to write. I was super-keen when the topic – writing process – was suggested. But now… as I face the blank screen… I’m not so sure.
My writing process has changed dramatically in the past six months.
See, this year I left my full-time, well-paid job to “pursue my writing”. That’s what I would tell people: “I’m taking a year to pursue my writing.” Sounds like a high-speed car chase, doesn’t it? Of course I’ve had to take up other less-demanding work, but the goal this year is to focus on my writing.
I agree completely with Yanicke’s post last week. If you’re a writer, you’re a writer and no amount of not-writing will change that. That’s why, for all those years when I was working full-time I could still call myself a writer, even though I hardly wrote a thing.
This year though, I’ve made a great big huge space in my life where WRITING can fit. And every day I’ve been with my writing and in turn, I’m writing more than ever have before. My writing process is developing and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s going to find it’s own seasonal rhythms.
As the year started, in the Summer months, I’d write for a few hours each evening. The process went like this: the whole family would troop down stairs and while the kids were arguing their way through the teeth and toilet routine, I’d duck into my writing room and light a candle, flick the kettle and switch the lamps. After kissing my girls goodnight I’d close their door and run into my writing room, where my story was waiting. I’d never been able to do that in the past because I was always too tired after a day of work.
Now that the weather’s changed and the evenings are dark and cold, being in my writing room at night isn’t such a delightful proposition. The lure of a good book under my cosy doona is hard to resist. And so, I’ve discovered morning writing. My alarm goes off around 5:30am and once I regain consciousness I layer up and head down to the writing room. I’ve discovered how to set the heater so it comes on a few minutes before I get there and the room is toasty and welcoming as I pick the sleep from my eyes. There’s a virtuous feeling that comes with morning writing. I hug the satisfaction close to me during the day – knowing that if nothing else – I wrote something that day.
On the days that I don’t meet with my story – I try to do something that moves my writing forward. This might be following some writerly blogs, re-reading over some notes, editing, doing a writing exercise, dreaming up a new scene or simply reading. Every day I try to do something that connects me with my writing life.
I have also established two ‘writing dates’ in my week. The first is on a Tuesday when both my girls are in school. I’ve found a shared creative space in town complete with pressed metal ceilings, arched windows and a kitchenette. I take my computer and settle in for the day. Tuesday has become my favourite day. Being able to connect with my novel for several hours in succession has helped me discover layers beneath my plot and nuances within my characters. I can let myself become completely absorbed in my writing, knowing that I won’t be interrupted. The other folk who share the creative space with me are IT guys and they assure me they are writers too. But they write code so I feel sorry for them even though they seem happy. Our conversations are limited and their occasional discussions are remarkably easy to ignore.
My second date is with my beautiful friend Kate. She lives in Melbourne, I’m in Merimbula and yet every Wednesday evening we send a text that creates a writing link. We settle into an evening of writing, sharing an occasional text of encouragement or a how did you go? query the next day. It’s an experience that warms me and keeps me connected to my work and to my friend. I love the notion of our creative spirits dancing together even if our mortal bodies are far apart.
My writing process is ever evolving. I’m beginning to play with amazing tools like Scrivener, ommwriter, Freedom and Anti-Social. I try new techniques when I hear of them. I collect ideas in endless notebooks. I always begin a writing session with a quick re-read. I always close a writing session with a few dot points of where the story is heading.
If you ask me about my writing process six months from now I’ll probably have a different answer. My process is changing, growing and evolving. But I wouldn’t say I’m pursuing my writing. I’m not chasing it down the road like it’s something that got away. I’m just being a writer – any which way I can.