discussions writing & publishing

Process, Other Forms, Slowing Down

Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to the roots, to think about the process of writing.

During high-speed motivational movements like NaNoWriMo, we may well forget about the simple joys of writing. Sitting down in whatever conditions suit, establishing those weird little routines (I know you all have them: that favourite chair facing towards the South). That’s where the pleasure lies for me – not in bashing out however many words I need to each day, but the simple explorations, the feelings that the act generates. Even, you know, remembering that writing is an art.

I still find it fascinating to look at the processes used by other writers. I’ve often thought that, from the outside, it looks as though to get published you need to be in possession of a key set of secrets, and listening to other writers talk is some way into gleaning such secrets. Here’s Nigel Slater – one of the UK’s great food writers – talking about his processes (in what is a combination of art forms – cooking and literature).

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Food writing is an interesting form of literature – writing about things that are very personal and sensual. It’s reminded me how much, in the past, I enjoyed tinkering with other forms of writing – describing landscape or architectures, perhaps, and it’s something I’ve neglected of late. I used to think it good practice. Again, something has been lost by rushing, this time to reach deadlines.

Writing is a process that, for a writer, simply has to be enjoyed. Struggling to think about what to write all the time, or constant frustrations about never being published, will bring you down. You may never be published; but that won’t stop you from being a writer if you enjoy the process.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

6 replies on “Process, Other Forms, Slowing Down”

I think one of the mistakes I made early on was regarding process. I don’t think I was ever naive enough to believe there was some secret process, but I do think I felt there were a large but finite number of processes from which you had to mix and match.

When I realised that writing is hard (to write words down is easy, but to write the right words, in the right order… next to impossible) I realised there was only one process that mattered… my own.

One of the joys of my current editing process is that it really is a voyage of discovery. I’m finding it far more enjoyable than I thought I would.

Sure it’s interesting to hear how other people approach their work but it’s very easy to convince yourself you’re doing it wrong.

This puts me in mind of today’s ‘Letter of Note’ from Charles Bukowski to a friend:

Too many writers write for the wrong reasons. They want to get famous or they want to get rich or they want to get laid by the girls with bluebells in their hair. (Maybe that last ain’t a bad idea).

When everything works best it’s not because you chose writing but because writing chose you. It’s when you’re mad with it, it’s when it’s stuffed in your ears, your nostrils, under your fingernails. It’s when there’s no hope but that.

For me, NaNo served a good purpose in that it got me to write more. I can’t sustain that pace the rest of the year, but I did learn many things about writing, and about myself when I did it. #1: You can’t wait for the Muse to whisper in your ear. The muse will do a lot more talking when you PBIC and get to work.

Well, I’m not sure ‘more is better,’ but certainly the more I write, the better I feel I become. Sure, those first drafts during NaNo are largely crap (but then what first draft isn’t?), but it’s a start. It was a chance to get some ideas down and work on some characters. I will say that in the interest of word count I veered off on a couple of tangents that are largely going to go away, but in doing that, I also learned where I DON’T want to go with the story. Was it consistent with what I wrote before? Eh, I hope not. Some of it is really cringe-worthy 😉

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