Shining the Light On My Process: An IWSG Post

Good day, my friends.

We’ve reached the first Wednesday of May. Can’t believe it snuck up on me so fast. So it’s time for members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to share their insight into their writing lives. Special thanks to Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin for co-hosting this month’s session.

I turned forty years old back in January. If you been reading my posts the last few months, you know about my “40 Years of Favorites” series. Today, I’m taking this concept and applying it to something I haven’t talked much about on my blog, the writing process.

Every writer has a process they implement when writing. I honestly never thought about discussing mine because I’m not writing to make a career out of it. But I’m learning more about my process as I continue to write stories and posts for this blog. So, since I’m talking favorites here, I’m going to discuss my process and what I like and dislike about the stages.

Brainstorming. Every process starts with a brainstorming session. Ideally, I would like to have another person to be in a session, but the Internet makes a good partner, too. Through Google and Pinterest searches, I found some interesting prompts for stories. Social media groups are good, too. I, sometimes, get a response from requests I place. But it can be frustrating when I have to post over and over again. And not every idea is golden.

Plotting. I used to be a big-time plotter. Before I even thought about writing a first draft, I wanted everything planned out. I work well with a concrete plan. I have to have a plan for sanity’s sake. But now, I’m finding when it comes to writing, it’s sometimes better to not have a plan. It’s not to say I don’t need a plan, but I’m discovering plans disrupt my creative flow. I don’t feel the authenticity if I’m so bent on following a plan to the letter. So I’m working on finding a balance. Have a map, but allow myself to go off the trail.

First Draft. It doesn’t matter if I have a plan or not. It doesn’t matter if I write it in a notebook or type it out. The first draft makes me nervous. My inner critic and my inner editor want to come out before they’re invited. I can recite to myself the numerous quotes about first drafts, but it doesn’t make writing it any less comforting. I get nervous about the slop that oozes out of my brain and onto the blank space. Those two judgmental forces want to possess me to make the first draft perfect. I know I have myself to blame. I have to slow down and say those quotes over and over.

Revising. This is where the anxiety kicks into overdrive and my confidence wavers tremendously. This is the stage where my inner critic thrives the most. I’ll read through my draft and be quick to mark through a sheet with red, blue, and green to contrast with the black. Now, it’s suggested to have someone else read and suggest revisions, but I don’t because I’m afraid they won’t like it. However, I have sent drafts to various writers and they applaud my efforts and offer constructive suggestions. As much as I hate this stage, it’s something I need to embrace. Like brainstorming, it requires me to have faith in myself and my abilities.

Rewriting. This is my favorite stage of the process. I can use the results of the revising stage to craft a better story. Sometimes, there are a few tweaks. Sometimes, it requires a significant shift. Regardless, this is the stage where I don’t pay as much attention to the original plan. And that’s actually a good thing because at this point, I probably have found better ways to write my story. Whether it’s adding or subtracting details or using a more suitable, more impactful word or sentence. I’m learning from my mistakes and making them better. Granted, it can be tedious at times. One story took five rewrites before I found it satisfying. The bottom line is that I found the piece to make “everyone” happy.

Final Stage. The final stage varies upon my intention for any certain story. Lately, I’m writing stories to share them on my blog. But I want to start entering stories into contests. Submit them to writing magazines. This frightens me because of the uncertainty involved. I get no story is perfect; it will its strengths and weaknesses. But it’s this stage where I fall into the comparison loop. But I’m working on breaking this vicious wheel and learning to be satisfied with my process and my work, regardless of it’s accepted or not. Rejection is just as much a part of the process as success. It’s about perspective and striving to one-up yourself, not someone else.

So that’s my process. At least, for now. I believe the more stories I write and see the process through its entirety, I will grow in the process and make changes within the stages. In the grand scheme, I have to remember that every writer’s process is different. So the process I laid out before you guys may not work for everyone. And that’s fine. At the end of the day, it’s all about being the best writer for you. Being the best writer for me. And that pursuit will never end.

What about you? What does your process look like? Let me know briefly in the comments.

Until next time…

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