As a blogger and author, I am often asked about my process as a writer.
If you expect me to share all the juicy details of a sophisticated, well-trained, highly disciplined commitment to writing – you’re wrong. That’s not me. Though I appreciate and respect such style, I have not yet arrived at that place, and I’m not sure I will. I cannot force my writing. Staring at a writing prompt on keypad as if words are going to magically spill out is not a practice that works for me.
My process is more organic; it is a truthful and authentic testament to the flow of my life; my process is mine.
It often starts when I observe a pattern of behavior in others or myself; then, I noodle on the logic – or lack thereof – around said pattern or observation. I reflect on my own behavior around the pattern. I watch and listen to its presence in society at large; I start conversations about the patterns with others; through all of this, I’m thinking and spinning prose around that pattern in my head, so that by the time I hit the computer, I’m hot with ideas that have been marinating in my head for days, even weeks, sometimes.
The moment I begin, I feel it flow. And I know I’m ready to write.
There’s no telling when I’ll be ready to write, but it oftentimes happens before the sun comes up. Take right now, for example; it is 3:40 on a Sunday morning. There’s a busy day ahead with an early yoga class followed by a dog walk; this – 3:40am – is my uninterrupted time to sit and write.
Interestingly, much of my book was finished in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning. It’s in that quiet space between days where I’m clear-headed, fresh, and focused. That is my style.
And once I’m writing, I’m writing; getting all my thoughts – messy, uncomfortable, all-over-the-map – onto the blank page. My writing coach, Rob, taught me that every first draft needs to be just that – a brain dump. No stopping amid the thoughts; no editing; no revising and deleting. Just writing.
Rob’s advice to just keep writing was a massive game changer because the technique allowed me to find two things that have been critical to my writing success – my voice and my rhythm.
Now, if you think I fashion these brain dumps and musings days and weeks before they’re due – you’re wrong. I am a fantastic procrastinator when it comes to my writing. I always wait until the last minute. And I’ll do anything before writing. I do laundry. I walk dogs. I run errands. I cook. I clean. I clear space. And, I stall.
Once I finish the first draft of thoughts, I run back through it and edit; I check for spelling and grammar. Sometimes I step away from the writing and return to edit and tighten it up. I edit three, four, five times before sending it to my personal editor who will edit the final piece before publication. She emphasizes my sass, reigns in my ramblings, corrects my errors in spelling and grammar; she catches my misses. She brings my voice and rhythm into its truest, brightest light. She makes me sparkle.
When all is said and done, one weekly blog can take three hours (or more) in writing and editing time; even more so if you factor in all the time I spend thinking, marinating, brainstorming, developing thoughts and theories.
So, why do I do it? Why do I write?
I began writing because I knew in my gut that I had a story to tell the world; a story about my journey; a story about how I managed sexual harassment in one of the fastest growing industries in America. I chose to write because I was wide awake to the bullshit belief that sexual harassment for women at work is just the way it is.
From a bigger, life picture, I write because I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. I’ve always boldly challenged status quo thinking; I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. I write because I think following the crowd causes us to fail massively as a society, and I hope my writing challenges people to stop and think, first – about themselves; second – about the world around them and how they show up. I write because I think we all lack accountability; far too often, we want to point fingers instead of starting with ourselves to implement massive change by being the change we say we so desperately desire. I write to share where I have fallen down and how and how often I have had to wipe myself clean of my own bullshit stories and failings; I write to share authentically and fearlessly that you must be willing to start over. I write to inspire others to be their own warrior because nobody is saving or rescuing you but fucking you.
I write to remind myself over and over and over, it’s always been, and it is always going to be more than okay – you must control what you can. Control your own actions, your own thoughts, and your own words. That’s why I write.
And that’s my not so sexy truth.
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