Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writing Process {A Blog Hop}

I'm pretty excited to be invited to my first blog hop. And even more excited because that invitation came from Rachel at The Chronic-ills of Rach.  The reason I am excited to be invited by Rachel is that I really admire her writing.  She is witty, poignant, intelligent and thoughtful.  If you haven't been to her blog, haven't read her words you must. Do it.

The other reason I'm very excited about this blog hop is that in turn I get to nominate a three other bloggers I love to take part as well.  My choice was made pretty easy by these  three women - because I really love what they do at their little corners of the internets.  And also because they are exceedingly supportive bloggers, so I'm more than happy to share the love.  You'll get to meet them at the end of this post.  Be patient - they're worth the wait.

But I'm not just excited, I'm also a little nervous.  Because this blog hop is about the writing process, about my writing process.  And to be honest that's not something to which I have given much thought.  I hope this will be a good thing - to actually give these questions some thought.  I'm not just answering them for you, but for myself as well.  Here's hoping we both learn something.

Here goes. *Deep Breath*

A Bit Of Background

I think I have always had the heart of a writer.  My Grandfather on my Mothers side was a journalist.  And my Mum can write.  She never really did it much.  When she did though.  Wow.

I think these things are more genetic than perhaps we know, or care to admit.  I'm always fascinated whenever I watch an episode of Who Do You Think You Are at how often drive in a certain career or field can be traced back generations, to people in the family that have been long dead. 

At least when life doesn't get in the way.

That's what happened to me.  Life got in the way.  Life and a lack of belief that I could be what I wanted to be.  And a lack of understanding that to be that thing, you just had to be it.  I've spent a lot of my life waiting for things to be offered to me.  Or for permission to be granted to me.  Like if I wanted to be a writer, someone else had to let me be one, or tell me I could be one, or give me permission to be one.

And since none of those things ever happened, I just didn't become one.

But in my heart it's what I've always wanted, even when I didn't really know it, or what it meant or what it involved.  I've always written bits and pieces, thoughts, poems, stories, diaries, letters and whenever I had a problem the only way I could work it out was to write through it.  Still is.

I've wasted so much time not doing what I should have been doing all along.  I'm just not going to do that anymore.  And I'm not going to seek anyones opinion or approval to do it either.  It's a difficult thing for me, to not want to be approved of.  I need a cheer-squad of supporters urging me on.  But I am getting better at being that for myself and not expecting it from anyone else.  Which is a great feeling, because then, when it comes, it is a beautiful gift that I can appreciate.  And if it doesn't come it doesn't mean I have to give up.  It never has meant that of course, it's just taken me this long to work that out.

What Am I Working On?

Well, apart from working on giving myself permission to do what I love, and working on not needing approval from others to do it, in a practical sense what I am working in is writing. See, I have come to understand that to write, I actually have to write.  It seems a simple thing, but I think for a long time I thought that if I was really a writer then the writing would just magically happen.  I grew up believing that talent was a fully formed thing that belonged to people who were way more amazing than me.  I didn't understand discipline, I didn't understand hard work and I didn't understand that to do something, you had to actually do it.

I thought that the doing would be easy, fun and not at all like hard work, if it truly was my calling.  I know a bit better now.  So.  I am working on getting disciplined about making time to write.  I find if I give myself the time and actually sit down to write, an amazing thing happens - I write!

I am also working on unlocking some fiction.  I am daunted and more than a little scared about this, but I really want to do it.  It's taken me till now to work out that if I want to write fiction, I have to make the time to sit down and write it.  So I can't really waste any more time being scared about how it will turn out or whether it will be any good - I just have to get it on the page first.  And work out the rest later.

How Does My Writing Differ From Others In My Genre?

This is a tough one to answer because I don't really see myself or my blog as having a genre.  As far as I am concerned I just write what I am thinking about.  I try not to categorise it too much, as doing that and setting limits around what I can or should write about would only cause me to write less, or less broadly.  

For me, my blog space is whatever comes to me and while I like the idea of being more targeted eventually, I can't do anything right now that is likely to limit me getting words down.  So I don't know that I have a genre, and I try not to compare myself to other people, or my writing to other writers. 

I did have a moment though when I first read Rachels blog where I thought.  Wow.  To write like that.  A decade or so ago that would have had me in a spiral of self doubt and would have stopped me from writing.  Now, I can see that we are different.  I am not Rachel, I am not on her journey.  I am me.  That doesn't mean I don't have anything interesting to say.  It just means I have other things to say.  Knowing that, for me? That's progress.

I've learnt that my type of blog, my type of writing can be loosely corralled into the lifestyle category.  That's okay I guess.  Except I don't really feel like I have a "lifestyle".  I have a life.  And I write about it.  I'll have to leave it to others to say where or whether I differ from others in this supposed genre.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I once read an article by Zadie Smith in which she said "Writers don't write what they want, they write what they can."

This is the quote that inspired me, finally to publish my blog.  To put it out there.  Some people, don't understand why I would want to do that.  Why would I want to take my thoughts, my life and put in on the page, put it out there for others to read and potentially judge.  Not that long ago the idea that people didn't understand it stopped me from doing it.

Now I know enough to know that no-one else needs to understand it.  To a large degree I don't understand it either.  But it is there.  And there it is.  It is something I am driven to do, I don't have to understand it, neither do you.  I just have to do it.  That is enough.

I certainly don't write what I want.  I don't write a fraction of the way I'd like to write.  I'd love to write fiction, and it terrifies me.  But I write, I write what I can.  And I live in the hope that even now, even twenty-five years later than I should have started I can improve, I can get better and I can get closer, little by little to writing what I want.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

It's funny to think of myself as having a "process" it makes me sound like a writer, like some sort of professional.  Which I absolutely am not.  But I am working on my process I guess, I am learning so much and trying to get more disciplined about how and when I write.  

But at the moment my process looks a little something like this.  

I post on my blog once a week, on a Sunday morning. I like the idea of people sitting down with their Sunday morning cup of tea and having a little read.  The thought of that makes me happy.  

So after posting I linger in the happy place of having posted for a day or two and don't think about writing.  

Then I get to Thursday and I start to get nervous.  I start thinking about what I have coming up on the weekend, what family things we're doing, what the kids are up to and how little time I will have to write anything.  

That's when I usually sit down and try and get something out.  This looks something like me staring at the ceiling for a minute or two thinking about all the thoughts I've had this week and trying to happen upon one that might be interesting enough to expand into a blog post.  This can take a while.  There's a lot of mess up there (in my brain, not on the ceiling.  That's one part of the house that's relatively clean).

Or sometimes if I've had an interesting thought I'll write it down on a piece of paper.  Then I can spend a few minutes trying to find the piece of paper to determine if it has anything worthwhile written on it or not.

Then I just write.  Once I have a starting point I just go.  Often times I have an idea of where I'm heading but I have write for a while to get there.  And eventually a rounding out idea or a sentence will present itself and that's where I end.  

Sometimes I feel I still have something to say on the subject, or a tangent to go off on.  But when that happens I usually just write it down on another piece of paper for another time.  I'm aware that people who read my blog (some do you know - thanks guys!) have a gazillion other blogs they want to touch in with as well, so I can't take up too much of their time.  A cup of tea, that's about long enough.  Any tangential ideas can be saved for another time.

Once I've got it all out I have to go back over it many, many, many times.  Fixing up typos, making paragraphs out of stream of consciousness ramblings.  But, usually the structure stays mostly the same.  Unless I've made a real hash of it and have to renovate.

So that's my process.  I wouldn't recommend it.  It certainly need some refining.  Some added discipline.  And I'm working on that.

That's it form me.  I hope you found this peek into my creative practice interesting on some level.  When I started this blog I had a rule about not writing about writing, about creativity, about process.  But it was a stupid rule.  And stupid rules are made to be broken.

Now I'm going to hand to over to three of my faves.  I hope you enjoy reading about their  writing techniques too.  I know I'm really looking forward to it.

Kim from ihearttuesdays
Kim is a frustrated writer, undomesticated wife and oft-frazzled Mum whose small world revolves around her family and surviving til bedtime. She loves words, chocolate and cheese and still harbours fantasies of marrying Brandon Walsh when she grows up.

Sophie from The Mother Load Australia
Sophie is a Melbourne mum of two girls, a TV producer, music marketer, social media manager and writer. The Mother Load Australia is both her creative outlet and her therapist. With a mix of humour, occasional opinion and raw honesty,it depicts her tumultuous journey through parenting, and life in general, as a self–confessed “dysfunctional perfectionist”.  Sophie believes that the art of parenthood is best learned not only from our own instincts, but also from the wisdom and experience of others and this is largely the philosophy behind The Mother Load Australia.

Ashley from The Squee
Ashley is a multi-passionate blogger, writer, editor and social worker.  She is a proud "westie", making her home in vibrant Footscray in Melbourne's inner west and spends time juggling the chaos of life with her partner, two belly babies and one darling foster daughter.  Ashley is currently studying Professional Writing and Editing with a focus on non-fiction and formalising her natural obsessive feelings about proper grammar.  Funnily enough, she also says "totes" quite a lot.

Do you have a creative process? What does it involve?

Listen to I Be Bound to Write to You Muddy Waters

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  1. Great post Kate. I am a big fan of your writing style and enjoy seeing your posts pop in my my feed each week. I am drawn to blogs which show a hint of imperfect humanity behind them (rather than the slick, immacuately presented ones filled with stories of a perfect life). Hope you keep turning your hand to fiction writing - you'd be great !

    1. Thank you so much Ing I really appreciate that comment a lot. I agree - I think that the internet can be a little too "perfect life" oriented at times so I lie to contradict that a bit! I love your blog too - you are doing great things over at Tread Kindly ( x

    2. Um I LIKE, I LIKE to contradict that a bit! I do not LIE to contradict that a bit. As a typo that is, well AWKWARD! x

  2. This is so great to read! Writing can often be a solitary or mysterious pursuit… It's so good to get a glimpse of how YOU do it, what makes sense to you, WHY and where it all came from! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank YOU so much Pip for taking the time to visit here. That is really much appreciated and a testament to your generous spirit. x

  3. This is a great post Kate. You and I are so similar in the way we have denied our writing for so long. I love your writing so please please do keep at it. xx

    1. Thank-you Sarah, yes we have a lot in common, that is why your writing resonates with me so much as well. x

  4. I so relate to what you say Kate! Waiting for permission, waiting to be asked... it's crazy isn't it?! If you have any more doubts about your write-ability (I have them every day!) I would just like to offer you two thoughts. I am just one person and these thoughts are from me to you "Please will you write more? I want to read anything you write"... there are many others out there just like me who find your voice authentic, relatable and a joy to read. Please give us the words to read! :-)
    Also, what you said about my writing made me feel like a billion buckaroos! :-) Thanks so much Kate. X

  5. Oh Rachel you are divine! Thank-you for your beautiful comments and your beautiful words at Chronic-Ills of Rach - I fell the same about wanting to read every word of yours. We are the veritable mutual admiration society aren't we! x

  6. Fantastic post. Kate. You and I share many similar qualities and clearly a love of writing is one of them. Thanks for including me in your blog hop and for your lovely words above - you're a hard act to follow but I'm looking forward to posting my version soon! xxx

    1. Soph, you know it was you and your blog that inspired me to press publish after writing this blog in secret for many, many months. I love what you do at the Mother Load and I hope we can collaborate even more in the future. x

  7. Great post Kate. I love the quote from Zadie Smith. I really get that. Inspiring stuff! I'm really looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. Thanks Deb. Yes I think of that quote often - it helps me feel less inadequate! x

  8. Lot's here that resonates with me Kate, I'll be coming back to read some more of your writing.

    1. Oh thank-you so much Emily, that is such a wonderful compliment, I'm so pleased this resonated. x