Why I Write: The My Writing Process Blog Tour

Duck - Wörth am Main

Welcome to this week’s edition of the My Writing Process blog tour!

Last week, my creativity coach, Jill Winski, tagged me for this tour. I appreciate the opportunity she’s given me to share my writing process. Thank you for the tag, Jill! I hope you’ll visit her terrific blog, the artist’s nest, and read her post on why she writes.

Let’s start with a little story

When I was in the sixth grade, I had to write an essay about something I loved to do.

Back then, I was a huge bookworm. I absolutely loved to read. (I still do!) I was the shy, quiet kid who always had my head buried in a book.

I decided to write my essay on my love of reading – a short piece of about 350 words.

Writing that essay was the first time I put into words something that was important to me. While I had always known intuitively why I loved to read, it was my first attempt to understand a part of myself through the act of writing.

For the first time, I opened up my inner world; I gave voice to something that I felt passionate about; and I shared a hidden – yet authentic – part of myself with others.

All these years later, I still have the original, faded, tattered, two-page, typed essay.

It represents the beginning of my writing journey – and what writing has always been about for me.

Now let’s turn to the blog tour questions

Why do you write what you write?

First, what I write: I write in my journal – for me. And I like to write creative nonfiction, especially more personal pieces, such as personal essays and memoir.

I write for three main reasons, and they’re all interconnected – and reflected in many of the essays I’ve written on this site.

  1. I write to deeply understand myself and my life experiences. I’m a big picture person. I have this internal need to process and understand my life. When things happen, I need to understand them within the context of my larger life story. I’m interested in the question: why? I need to find the meaning behind my life experiences. Writing is the vehicle I use to make sense of things. The act of writing helps me figure things out in a way that I can’t until I actually put them into words. It helps me better understand myself, and it helps me heal and grow.
  2. I also write to claim my voice and own my story (or my truth). This is a very empowering act, and is one of the main reasons why I’m drawn to personal writing. When I write, I’m an active player in my own life story. I’m the protagonist – not a victim. In this way, writing has helped me take ownership of my life – and my life experiences.
  3. Finally, I write to express my most authentic self. Even though I don’t always feel like I succeed in doing so, it is what I strive for when I write – to be real with myself on the page, to be honest, to write from the heart. If I want to deeply understand, if I want to own my truth, I have to be real. I have to be authentic – in a way that is not always easy in everyday life. Writing allows that inner part of me to come out.

What are you working on?

I’m working on a draft of a memoir about the eight-year brain cancer journey I went on with my late husband – and what that experience has meant to me, in the story of my life. It’s the first part of a larger story I want to tell.

The second part is about my three-year journey of grieving, loss, and healing after his death – and how that period in my life changed me.

You can read more about the two parts of my story, and my plan for writing them (at least, the plan at the moment) in 2014: The Year I Commit to My Memoir.

I also write on this blog, and have written short-form personal essays.

What is your writing process?

I’m an intuitive and organic writer. I write best when I let the words flow on their own. Oftentimes, I’ll start a piece based on a thought, an impression, or a feeling. I’ve learned to let it go where it needs to go.

I rewrite – a lot. It’s through the process of rewriting that I eventually figure out what I really want to say. This means that I’ll rewrite a piece 4, 5, or more times, and each time I’m getting closer to what I’m trying to get at.

This kind of writing requires a great deal of trust in the process – a strong belief that, even when it’s messy, and I may be stuck, I will eventually get there, and it will all come together – as long as I keep at it, and don’t force it.

It’s taken me years to understand this process, and to accept it.

I start every day opening up a new Word document. There’s just something about a fresh, new page that I find inviting. When I’m rewriting, I like to have a printed copy of the latest draft beside me to refer to and to jot down thoughts, as I’m working on a new draft.

Some days, I like to go out to write, to the library or a café. I enjoy a hot cup of green tea, just as I’m settling into a new Word document.

Three hours of writing is usually my limit. After that, I hit a wall, and have to stop for the day. I like to do something physical afterward, like go for a walk.

That’s it for me. Thanks for coming along on the blog tour. Unfortunately, I was unable to find another writer to tag to continue the tour. It stops here – for now.

If you’re interested in joining, and would like to be tagged, let me know.

* Photo credit: Image from Flickr by Carsten Frenzl