My Writing Process

One of my favorite bloggers Rudri at Being Rudri tagged me some time ago in this meme about the writing process. I have mentioned Rudri and her wonderful blog before. She writes thoughtful and reflective posts on the process of growing, healing, and finding joy. Her words are compelling because they come from a place of loss. She also writes regularly for The First Day, a quarterly print journal and on-line magazine about the spiritual journeys taken by people from all faiths and cultural backgrounds. Thanks so much for including me in this exercise, Rudri.

What am I working on as a writer?

I’m in a gap period in my writing. I’ve enrolled in writing courses over the last few years and worked on some personal essays for publication. Then I realized that I was suffering from a huge gap as a want-to-be writer: I wasn’t reading enough. A former classmate advised me to “learn from the masters” and so for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to return to the classics as well as familiarize myself with contemporary writers. I’m trying to figure out which voices and styles resonate with me most. I continue to write in my blog and last year began writing about books as well.

I would actually like to write a short story. For years I thought I would write a memoir but I struggled about privacy. Fiction, however, made me feel inauthentic. But I think blog writing has helped to release much of my pent-up emotions. I can comfortably try my hand at fiction now, as soon as I feel confident enough to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). For some reason I feel terrified about doing this.

I am also interested in poetry. I actually signed up for a free on-line poetry writing course that started while I was still traveling. I have a few course emails waiting for me so I need to get on that. But talk about a reading gap – I definitely need to read more poetry!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know if I can say that my writing belongs to a genre and, if it does, if I can say that it differs from others. I’ll just say that in general my writing tends very much to be on the personal side, and sometimes that applies to my book reviews too. I usually like to incorporate a personal voice into my posts.

Why do I write what I do?

I often get very personal in my writing, as my readers know. I’ve asked myself many times why I do this, when clearly I’m the only one among my (non-blogging) friends who reveals so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that I do it because I’d led a life of secrets. I come from a culture in which the most human conditions are seen as shameful flaws: hardship, injury, illness, failure, misfortune. I’ve been made to swear more than once to not utter a word to anyone about [something completely normal]. I also grew up in a home in which emotions were not acknowledged let alone discussed. This could work for some people, but I’m expressive and sensitive by nature. I see and interpret the world through words and feelings. Not allowing an expressive person to communicate is like forbidding an athlete from moving. I’ve had to write the most personal in order to heal and to find a healthy way to exist. I also do this in the hopes of making others (who may have grappled with similar issues) feel less alone. Being personal has helped me connect with readers, and I love and appreciate my small community here.

How does my writing process look?

I only sit down to write (blog) about two to four times a week (usually write 2x and edit 2x). I do, however, go about my days alert for possible topics. It might be a feeling that I have watching my son do something, or it might be something that my husband or friend brings up in conversation. Does that incident or comment reveal something larger about what many of us go through? I look for those moments and sometimes I talk them through with my husband. I store my ideas away mentally and on my phone and then get on my laptop the day before I want to publish the post. I try to write in the early mornings, and will postpone (non-urgent) work if necessary to get a post done. I write it all out in one sitting and then go back and edit small parts here and there. My most authentic posts get written the most quickly. For me personally, if I am in writing mode but the words are not coming to me easily, it’s a signal to me that I am not really writing what I’m feeling but writing because I feel pressured to churn something out. (The pressure is all internal, of course.)

Regarding my book reviews, I keep a small notebook of notable quotes to trigger memories of my biggest take-aways. More often than not I rely on memory. I’m not sure if this is the best tactic, though, given my no-longer-so-young-brain, so I think I need to start taking more notes!

Do you write? What is your writing process like?

19 thoughts on “My Writing Process

  1. Cecilia, I am enjoying reading your blog. This post really resonates with me, especially the part about your writing process and internally-generated pressure! I’ve just started a blog and it;s pretty terrifying, but exciting too.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Linda, Thank you so much! I appreciate your comment. That is great that you’ve started a blog as well. You’ll grow so much in the process. Good luck!

  2. Cecilia,

    Thanks so much for the wonderful introduction. I enjoyed reading about your process. I like what you said about the most authentic posts – I find those come quickly for me too.

    I love what you say about secrets. Writing does provide an outlet to unleash what we harbor inside and offers a powerful tool to explore what we don’t know about ourselves. Often times while writing a piece, I make a discovery. And the more personal and authentic posts tend to push forth treasures that I didn’t recognize before.

    The honesty in your pieces resonate. You offer comfort and always make your readers feel less alone. That is a gift, Cecilia. Thank you. xoxo

    • Thank you so much, Rudri. I appreciate all that you wrote here and am thankful that you gave me the opportunity to think about my writing process. When you tagged me I was both flattered and embarrassed, since I did not consider myself a writer! But the questions really made me think about where I am in the process, and I am still in the process.

      You’ve always been very encouraging and whenever I doubt my decision to write personally your support really comes through. Thank you for that. xo

  3. I would love to read your fiction or essays or poetry — you’re a wonderful writer in this informal setting, and I’m sure you’re just as gifted within more formal genres.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 I love writing about adventure, life and traveling. I spend the majority of my time in the writing process either researching or writing content. Happy Thursday!

    • Writing really is so much more than the sitting down and typing, isn’t it? And writing about adventure, life and traveling requires real living. A perfect ‘activity’!

  5. I enjoyed reading this, Cecilia! I wish I could be more organized and disciplined in my writing process. Though, I’ve come to terms with the fact that at this point in my life, those two words aren’t descriptive of my process. Words to describe my process that come to mind: scrappy and chaotic. Lol.

    • Haha, I should’ve tagged you in this meme/post! I imagine that you must be quite disciplined but maybe with three young kids you just do what you can. But it’s wonderful that you never stopped, despite the crazy demands on your time. It is great to hear from you, as always!

  6. I definitely suffered from not reading enough when I was younger. It’s like living – one of those things I used to think “I’ll skip that!” about in the mistaken belief that more *time* to write was what I needed, when the answer was more inspiration.

    I think it’s interesting that fiction makes you feel inauthentic – my book group has shown me a real dilemma in the admired, academically well received “well crafted/thought out” piece of writing and what the ordinary person wants – something that comes from the heart and is real.

    • That’s interesting, Denise, about the bit of insight that you got from your book club. I wonder if that is a big reason why blogs have resonated so much with people: they’re more accessible, more conversational, more “real” perhaps.

      I’m glad that you are reading and writing as well!

  7. I have a friend who would like to be a writer, and who, I think, would be terrific at it. But she keeps putting it off, I think, because she’s scared it won’t turn out as good as she wants it to. Is it the same for you? Maybe the more terrified you are, the more it means to you. I get really excited when I think about reading something written by people I know. I think you are an excellent writer and look forward to hearing more about your writing progress. The poetry course sounds interesting. In fact, I feel inspired to look up a possible course for myself. I just have to think what it might be for. 🙂

    • I really appreciate that, Naomi! It’s a good question what is stopping me…I think I feel a bit lost when it comes to fiction, because I haven’t done much of it. I have general, overarching ideas and themes for stories but I don’t know how to go about putting an entire story together, with details and characters and plot. Maybe I need to take a course or something.

      Have you heard of MOOC? I think I found my poetry class through this site. It’s a massive offering of different types of classes for free and was started by a number of universities. Maybe you can find something interesting there!

  8. Cecilia,i enjoyed reading about your process. Thank you very much! You’re a wonder of this grand world. I’m so happy that i found you and you’re magical blog. I try to write my ideas and thoughts with a special love, as you. Thank you! ^_^

  9. Hi Cecilia,

    I loved this honest piece.

    Of my three most successful blogs two of them were from the heart but did need a bit of editing once I had blurted them out onto the page,

    As for creative writing I am still struggling with a third draft of my children’s novel and not putting enough time aside to complete it. The will to write is stronger than my motivation right now and this must be addressed. I know that I have to make the time as opposed to waiting for the right time.

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