A Few Thoughts on the Writing Process

If you’re a writer and have been writing for a while, you know the experience of pouring yourself into something and coming to a point, eventually, of feeling like it’s ready. Then you come back to it a few months later and revision is much easier. Things you thought were perfect now seem a little clanky, and something (time, distance, rest, other pursuits, other work, good reading) has given you the ability to make them right. You tighten things up, make hard (even emotional) cuts, and now you know it’s ready. This happens two or three more times. That’s the process, isn’t it? It seems to be for me.

The only way I know to become a better writer is to keep writing, keep reading, and keep building in some opportunities for distance. Stay intellectually curious. Study the mechanics of your art. Listen to great lectures. Get feedback. Keep going.

I come back to these words often:

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you’ll dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it to the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.” (Ernest Hemingway)

Or, as Ann Hood says, “blow it up.” I come back to those words, too.

Last Night’s Reading, Yesterday’s Writing

Last night, I read:

“The Woman Who Rode Away” by DH Lawrence

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Chapters 1 – 3.

If anyone would like to talk about either of those selections, please do comment below. 

Yesterday, I revised (tried to re-see) a poem I’ve been working on and got to what I think is a good place with it.  The middle section still needs attention, but I did what I could with the energy I had.  

It was one of those days where I knew in my head (I don’t mean my mind…I mean I had one of those headaches where you just feel tired all day) I wasn’t going to get much new writing done, but I’m happy with what I was able to do in revision.  That’s not to say that revision isn’t new writing, but it’s not from scratch or the ether or wherever else these things in their mirror images form before you make them stick.

If you’re writing today, good writing!