In any life situation, the only way to really begin something is to set it in motion. Every time you or anyone starts a new project, it’s from scratch. New and aspiring writers constantly ask how the writing process works, how does it happen? The answer is simple and a little annoying: you have to write first. Not look for an agent, or market a book that’s not written, or begin the path to self publishing.
“How to write: Butt in chair. Start each day anywhere. Let yourself do it badly. Just take one passage at a time. Get butt back in chair. ” – Anne Lamott
Writing practice, writing groups, and filling pages. Blindly leading your pen to the page as often as you can and hope for the best, for a few salvageable sentences that might blossom into a rose and then a garden. Sometimes the writing is crap, like the grounds at the bottom of your coffee cup. You have to clean out the junk if you want a pure, crisp, fresh cup of kick ass coffee.
Full disclosure: I don’t write as much as I tell other people they should. But I try. One of the ways I try is by encouraging other writers to write together, to inspire each other to keep their pens moving. So yes, I’m helping them, and if I’m writing with them then they are helping me, too.
Truthfully, even if you have a disciplined writing practice, you’re going to write a lot of stuff you’d rather die than show someone. But that’s how you get to the deeper layer, the good stuff. The words that flow, the sentences that sing, the pages that engage your reader. This may seem tedious and repetitive and even torturous some days. But nothing feels better than knowing you have it right, that you can convey an image with words that is uniquely your own.
“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.” – Natalie Goldberg
Both new and seasoned writers can be overwhelmed by what writing requires. What helps us get through the process is support, connection, community. Whether it’s virtual or in person, knowing you’re not the only one facing these challenges is reassuring. We all sit down to a blank page and hope for the best. To assure the best, we just have to keep at it.