My Pre-Writing Writing Process

Taken by a manic four year old photographer

Cristina tagged me to write about my pre-writing process, which is funny because few would willingly desire to emulate any of my processes, but especially those that pertain to writing. 

Still, she asked some questions so I'm playing along.  Don't say I didn't warn you, Cristina. I apologize in advance.

(As an aside, I've learned a lot from Cristina about social media in the short time I've known her.  She is someone who really gets social media in general and marketing and promotion and I highly recommend following both her blog and her Twitter feed so you can reading all the articles and tips she posts.  Her information stream has been very helpful to me.  Plus, she's a really kind person.  Who doesn't need kindness in their life?)

What are your working on?

I think this question should read, what would you like to be working on...

Just kidding...

Kind of.

I'm always working on something, but it doesn't always look like the traditional sit and type pose.

I have a monthly writing commitment at Integrated Catholic Life

and I am also always thinking about potential blog posts, other article ideas, and book ideas.  I jot those thoughts down in a folder on my phone.

You'd laugh if you saw the list.

It's a bunch of random words with enough information so I don't forget the point about which I'd like to expand.

I have half a book written and a few more ideas I'd love to pursue.  Randy Hain, my editor at ICL, has been encouraging me to get serious and put my writerly game face on.  I very much desire to "Do the work" as Steven Pressfield so aptly suggests, butI also know that this particular moment is not the right time.

That time will come.

Until then, I write when I can and at odd times and in unusual places and I'm always very grateful for the super nice laptop my dad gave me as a gift a few years ago.  It's enabled me to keep writing.

I'm also a quality over quantity type of girl.  I'd rather produce one thoughtful blog post/article than a bunch of daily vapid navel gazing (though that still happens here sometimes). 

What makes your work different from others' in the same genre?

In case you haven't noticed, there are tons of other mom bloggers/writers out there and I am a but a drop in that vast ocean.  But I'm different from others in the following ways:

1.   I'm a story teller and stories are the mode I use to illustrate my points.  Most of the stories are from my own life, but not always.  My work is rarely, if ever, didactic.  Move along if you are looking to improve your life in five easy steps. That is not what I'm about here and it's not what I'm looking to read, either.  I can't stand that sh**.

2.  My work is authentic.  I love pretty pictures (which can sometimes skew the story), but I tell it like it is.  It's often not neat or admirable, but it is honest.  I make mistakes, but I'm trying.  

3.  My articles reflect what I've learned, not what I think you should learn.

Why do you write what you do?

For me, writing is prayer.  It's not unusual to have some kind of new insight about life when I'm at work. These insights are gifts from the Holy Spirit, not because I've got some brilliant mind.  People have told me before that sometimes I write inspiring things.  Actually, if there is anything I write that is in anyway worthwhile, it's because it's inspired.  

Me?  I got nothing.

I wrote about more about why I write what I do recently, so I'm quoting from that particular post below:

I write to have fun and to laugh.  Hello?  Mykids are hilarious.
I write to to tell stories.
I write to tell the truth, from my limited perspective.
And instead of saying I write to serve the muse, I would offer I write to serve God.
When my friend asked me what I write, I wish I had said, "The answer to that question for me is not what do I write, but why?"
In answering the question about why I blog, what I write about becomes obvious, I think.
I blog because it allows me to be a co-creator.  I blog because it allows me to search for beauty in daily life.  I blog because it allows me to think aloud, to figure out what I already know.  I blog because the act of sitting down to write is a good in and of itself and the writing helps me survive. 

How does your writing process work?

My daily life is hectic, really hectic and I sometimes get discouraged because I'm always reading advice which rightly encourages daily word counts and filling journal pages and the like.  But in between the care and feeding of seven other people and keeping my house clean enough so the sanitation department doesn't condemn us, and in just one week--homeschooling 4 kids--, I am unable to carve out time to sit and write consistently. 

It's not because I'm not trying, though.

I wake up at 5:15 am.

I pray and then I walk.

By that time, little people are up and ready to be fed.

The rest of the day is spent maintaining the status quo--food, laundry, keeping people safe and alive.  Many days I duck away from the laundry and the cooking to hide in a book, but carving time topound out thoughts in the midst of chaos is nearly impossible for me right now. Steven Pressfield says,

“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” 

Right now, for me, writing is important, but it's not urgent.  Right now, my family and their needs are the most important and the most urgent.  They trump my desire to write my first book.

Honestly?  Until Edward is a little more independent, writing a book probably isn't going to happen. 

The caveat to the statement above is this:

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” --Steven Pressfield

I agree.  So, so true.

Somewhere Pressfield quotes Somerset Maugham who said,

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.” 

In my daily life, I try to operate under the principle of working everyday.   I'm not afraid of doing the hard thing.  

(Hello?  I have six kids.  That's hard.  I also homeschool them.  More hard.) 

I'm all about scheduling the tough stuff and not making excuses.  

No pain, no gain, peeps.  

Here's the problem:  right now, other people dictate my schedule, not me. 

This is where finding creative uses of time is important as well as being gentle with myself.  

"My ideal is to write everyday.  I say it is my ideal.  I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I don't do that.  No one lives up to his ideal." 

               --Natalie Goldberg,Writing Down The Bones

Applying Goldberg's advice means:

I write when I can.  

When I do write either blog posts or articles, I try to write well.   

I read good books and bad books.  

I especially love to read books on writing and I try to always have one going.  Pressfield is my favorite with Lamott's Bird by Bird coming in as a close second.   Stephen King's book is also a good writing book.  I'm reading Writing Down The Bones right now.  A few years ago I read Zinniser's book On Writing Well.  (Dude, that book helped me so much so that when I recently submitted a piece to a published author to have him review my style, he said and I quote, "Clearly, you know what your doing."  If you need help with technique and the how-to's of good writing --proper punctuation, avoiding excessive adverbs and ing words, etc., read that book.)

I read, read, and read some more.  

I give myself permission to make mistakes. (Huge!)

I write posts on paper napkins, which often is some of my better stuff.  Weird.

I take constructive criticism from safe people who are also writers.  (I have a short list.  Rhonda is one of my peeps and so is Randy Hain.  If I've hired you to read my stuff--which I have done in the past--you are also a person I consider safe.)

When school starts, I will have one night a week that I will leave my house by myself to work on my writing.

Absolutely nothing about my method is pretty or organized.  But I make it work.  

***I'm sorry if this was the most boring thing you ever read about the writing process.  I still have so much to learn.

I'm tagging Christy at Fountains of Home because she lives my life and she loves to read,  Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee  because her posts are thoughtful, and Betty Duffy because she's one of my most favorites.  Feel free to play along if you are so inclined.