Today I’m giving you a bird’s eye view into my writing process! Where I get inspiration from, how I see my pieces through, and my best piece of advice to inspire your own creativity.
I’m doing this because my friend Lisa Haché-Maguire of A Subtle Art – who is a relationship coach helping couples on the verge of breaking up and singles at the point of giving up to cultivate unshakeable connection and irresistible sexual polarity (could we not all use a bit more of that!?) – invited me to participate in an ongoing blog tour sponsored by IC Publishing, which you can follow via #ICBlogTour. A very cool idea that’s been fun to delve into, taking gems from each writer’s insights.
1. Share how you start your writing project(s).
(For example, where do you find inspiration? Do you outline? Do you jump right into the writing? Do you do all of your research first?)
I love to communicate ideas with people and I love to read but I generally find writing somewhat tedious. Awhile back I noticed that I blogged only when I was both feeling it and had free time which meant that it was quite sporartic. I saw that being engaged but inconsistent was a greater pattern in my life so I decided to give myself a deadline of writing one empowerment/inspirational coaching-oriented piece a week, to come out on Mondays because when I was doing weekly counseling as a client I always wanted to meet on Mondays to start my week off with fresh insight. And I figured my readers and coaching clients might like to start their week off with something inspirational as well.
My process of pulling writing pieces together starts the week before where I simply pay attention to dominant themes coming up in my life, and in the life of my clients and friends. I’d love to be someone who has stock-piles of great pieces laying about to draw from, but what I notice works better for me is to share what’s current and fresh.
This process is so visceral for me that often if I try to write the piece too far in advance nothing will be there. It’s as if each week I’m riding a wave and can only really start writing once the lesson or insight’s wave has reached the shore, usually beginning Thursday or Friday the week before. That said, I jump right into writing and do not outline. Occasionally I’ll make a short brainstorming list of points I want to cover, but mostly I just sit down, imagine I’m having a conversation with someone delightful who would benefit from what I have to say, and start writing.
2. How do you continue your writing project?
(i.e. How do you find motivation to write on the non-creative days? Do you keep to a schedule? How do you find the time to write?)
To me, every day has creative potential. Even days when I feel emotionally upset, depressed, insecure, or angry can be great days to be creative because that emotional flavor can positively inform my expression, if I am willing to listen to and go with it. In fact, some of my best ideas and most popular posts are byproducts of me sitting down to write when I am feeling challenged and I need to write a post to myself!
That said, I’m grateful to have a strong and well-honed relationship with my muse and virtually any time I sit down to do something creative, whether it’s writing, painting, photography, or my other more side-line creative pursuits like dance, drawing, and singing, there are ideas there waiting in the wings. I just have to be open to them. This, of course, can be a bit vulnerable at times but I find that the people I most enjoy and benefit from – artists, teachers, coaches, and spiritual and inspirational folks of all varieties – share a fair amount about themselves, and that’s what I like about them.
One thing about my writing, and overall creative, process is that it happens in layers. There’s a wave of inspiration that I’ll ride for an hour or two but eventually it ebbs or changes directions into a different activity. At this point it’s best for me to stop trying to write as nothing’s really coming, go do something else, and come back when the energy is fresh and alive again. So any given piece probably happens in 4-5 sittings. Occasionally it will blast out all in one download which is fantastic, but more often it happens in stages.
3. How do you finish your project?
(i.e. When do you know the project is complete? Do you have a hard time letting go? Do you tend to start a new project before you finish the last one?)
I used to be really confused about when a blog post was done. I wanted to write like I talk – quite a lot when I’m excited about something – but after a year or so of regular posting, I found somewhere between 600-1200 words is quite enough. The main points I make sure I’ve covered are: Is it helpful? Is there something connecting (i.e. personal or funny) in it? Is it clear? Once that’s done and I’ve selected a picture for the post, it’s done.
I don’t have a hard time letting go because I have so many artistic things going on beyond writing that I’m can easily switch my attention to something else. I do re-read my posts about ten times though to make sure they’re clear and it’s amazing how on re-read #8 or #9 I will find typos or ways it could be just a tad clearer.
Generally after I hit publish and re-read it a couple more times, I feel like I’ve just crossed a finish line and am happy to take a break from writing for a few days, until the next wave of inspiration comes and I can ride that out into the next week’s post.
4. Include one additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
Blogging/writing, and all creativity, is vulnerable. The process is vulnerable as it confronts you in all kinds of ways. And the sharing of your writing and art is vulnerable as other people read what you have to say and get to know you better, which will also stir up emotionality and possibly your defense/protection mechanisms.
The best piece of advice I can give you is:
The fulfillment of being creative is worth it so TAKE A RISK, SHOW UP, EXPRESS YOURSELF, & DON’T HIDE.
You will never look back on your life and be glad you didn’t express yourself creatively, or that you withheld your wisdom and heart from helping others. On the contrary! Expanding your comfort zone of who you feel OK being and what you feel OK sharing with the world is what makes us feel alive.
To be clear, I am unquestionably a recovering introvert and being vulnerable does not come easily to me. But I have learned in so many ways, and regular blogging is one of them, that everything fulfilling in life – including becoming a more empowered person – is a byproduct of being willing to be vulnerable and expressive.
So it’s worth it. Every time you sit down to express yourself and resistance – in the form of judgment, avoidance, dissociation, drama, social media, cleaning the house, getting another cup of tea, socializing, returning a “pressing” phone call, or whatever – comes up and you choose expression OVER feeding into one of these distractions, you win. You win in that you chose creativity and life over fear and self-sabotage. You win in that you strengthened your relationship with your muse over your relationship with your critic. And you win in that you let your spirit’s wings soar a bit wider, which will make it easier the next time you decide to creatively fly (which is hopefully the next day).
Also, I can not give a higher recommendation to The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you want to slice through the resistance that holds you back with writing or showing up for any part of your life more fully, this is a fantastic book. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is also excellent.