So here we are. Part dos. No I don’t speak Spanish. Yes I thought it would sound cool.
DISCLAIMER: This is going to be a long one. Strap in.
I rediscover my creative style and tweak my blogging process more often than I would like to admit. I want to do better as a blogger and a writer. Sue me. Sometimes this obsession can hinder my progress because I get bogged down with the million details and various ways I could go about writing a post. I obviously don’t do well with choices. Sometimes what works on Tuesday doesn’t work on Friday. Creativity is this illusive unicorn that visits sometimes but I can’t seem to tame. However I never stop trying.
So here I am taking a stab at describing my creative process and the consistently moving clogs in the machine (my head) that works to spit out a post ever so often. I would absolutely adore any feedback you have. If my process resonates with you please let me know.
Blogging : The big picture
Focus: I started this blog with no real focus. I wanted to write and find my voice. That was it. I wrote because I enjoyed it. However, my posts started sounding like rants. I was getting bored. This is my honest to god reason. My thoughts were too scattered. I would come up with a million ideas to write about and unable to choose one, I would give up on the whole thing. I was also spending a lot of time reading blogs and books. I knew I was drawn to certain topics and I wasn’t following blogs that were a little ADD (the syndrome, not math). So I decided to focus on something I would like to read and was passionate about. I decided to write about stories that would resonate with people and inspire them. I chose to focus because structure was ideal for me to develop creative ideas.
Trial and error: Like I had mentioned, I am still figuring things out. Both in life and blogging. So over the months I have become very comfortable with trial and error when it comes to my posts. My mentor once told me that it is important to be a little scared when you are writing. Scared because you are being vulnerable and because you are taking a risk. I have taken that advice to heart and it has worked well with me. So I am always trying new themes, new sub topics and even a continually evolving writing style as I continue to blog. I have realized that failing (0 likes, 0 comments or hate comments) wouldn’t be the end of the world. Also, I am finding my voice. It will take a lot of honing. After all, whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well. Right? Besides, risk is the foundation of creativity. If I want to continue taking risks, I cant be afraid to fail.
Structure: Every Tuesday. I must have a post out every Tuesday. I know my last post was on a Wednesday. Stop judging me. I did not put this structure in place for the longest time. In fact its brand new. I thought I was passionate enough about writing that I didn’t need it at all. But I do. A deadline keeps me motivated. I never thought structure and creativity would go well together. I might have been wrong.
Voice of Judgment: While it is obviously important for me to provide my readers with value, I try not to let it be my only driver. If I keep focusing on what you will think, I might forget my voice and get distracted. I might be tempted to forego honesty. In the end, none of us win. My writing comes out broken and you leave disappointed. This is specially hard knowing that I get very real feedback off WordPress on my posts from my loved ones who follow this blog. Its hard not to take that personally. So in order to continue to develop my writing away from any VOJ, I author another blog that no one knows about.
Posts: The weekly grind (that I can’t live without)
The dawn of an idea: I am often inspired by the best ideas for a post just after I wake up. It will often appear during the first hour of being awake when I am honestly still asleep. Just a zombie who has learnt how to get dressed without turning on her brain functions. Sometimes things people say or my experiences will inspire posts. Again, these often come as flashes. When I am not thinking about it. Thinking about it is extremely unproductive and when I force myself to write about something uninspired, it often tanks. I believe, when the blogger is ready, the ideas will appear!
Incubation : If it is not a morning idea, I wont write about it right away. Morning ideas are like magic. You got to get them down on paper. Ideas during the rest of the day are like seeds. They need time to grow and develop their magical powers. So I sleep on them for at least a day. I don’t think about them, but let them churn in my mind. What eventually happens mirrors a snow ball effect. These tiny ideas grow to full fledged posts in a couple of days, if given enough nutrition (sleep) and love (Leave them ALONE).
Prep: I need to be in an extremely mellow state of mind to write. I need to have my guard down. Or it might hinder my voice and creativity. If I am NOT in the mood, I try not to write. If I am confused about my mood, and I write, I end up gambling on the quality of the post. If I am in the mood, writing feels effortless. Like I am a vessel and writing flows through me. I don’t even know who is talking through me, but I would definitely be their BFF if they would give me a chance.
Show Time: Once I begin writing, I try not to stop. For anything or anyone. I will not allow myself to read my words mid post. I don’t care if the next few words are gibberish. I cant mess with the flow. Re reading what I have written in the past 20 minutes is like inviting disaster. Like hanging up on the voice that is trying to speak through my fingers as they hit the keyboard. I used to stop writing half way through a post and edit. I learnt very quickly not to do that. Because whenever I did, I could not finish the post and would have to scrap it all.
Editing : My editing process includes finding cool pictures to go with my posts. I am not a fan of reading books without pictures. So I wouldn’t put you through anything I wouldn’t want to go through. I try and find funny pictures to match my personality. I also try to edit my work to sound simpler and funnier than my first draft. I want you to enjoy my writing. Editing is my last chance to do it. So I take this process very seriously. Sometimes, I wont edit my work right away. This allows me to come back to it with fresh eyes. Sometimes I grow impatient. That doesn’t always end well.
Building my creativity muscle
I have a variety of creative interests outside of blogging. These creative pursuits make me happy and stimulate my creativity so I can perform better as a writer.
Heroes: I follow several bloggers and writers. I even follow a few personalities that inspire me just because they inspire me to strengthen my voice and style. Here is a small list
I study my heroes extensively. I add to this list often. I try to gather enough information on them so as to break down their story into steps that I can follow. It’s a hobby I enjoy. Reading a lot of the work by my blogging and writer heroes has definitely proved invaluable for my writing style.
Creativity overflow: I was a professional photographer (I got paid once or twice, it counts), I like to create my own recipes, I write songs and love to sing. As a child I used to love designing clothes. I will get to gardening when I can. I cannot get enough of creating things from scratch. It’s this spirit of creativity that flows into all my pursuits including writing. Doing creative things outside of writing only makes it stronger.
The Eternal student: I love reading books on intangible processes. Creativity is definitely one of them. To think one has tamed the elusive unicorn is exciting. So I take great pleasure spending a lot of my free time readings books like The artists way and the creative habit. I also love watching TED talks like…(how to tell a story) I believe there are people out there that have, if not tamed the unicorn, at least spent enough time with it to point me in the right direction. This has also benefitted my blogging journey.
Its everywhere: At this point, I cant even watch a show like Friends without trying to imagine what it must be like to reside in the writer’s mind. I watch extremely creative movies and shows with the goal of figuring out the secret ingredient that makes them classics. While I do not have my hands on the secret ingredient yet, I am slowly figuring out the rest of the recipe.
So there you go folks. Does any of this sound familiar? Did any of it help? Is there something you know that could help me? Please let me know!