All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Time and Place

It's been a rough week for me, very rough indeed. I pushed myself to do my distance cycling (though by the end, I am not sure whether my bicycle or my knees were groaning the loudest). I also put in some quality treadmill time, took care of some household chores, finished up some business stuff, and prepared for Saturday's Writing Workshop (2:30 - 4:30 p.m., Park Forest library, for those who are interested). Right now I need find something relaxing to do.

By relaxing, I mean editing my latest work.

"How is that relaxing?" you might ask, and you wouldn't be alone in that sentiment. However, for everything we get into, we need to know the best way to react to it and the best way to take advantage of it. When I have been through a lot of physically demanding stuff along with stressful activities, I guarantee that the best place for my mind to settle into is the meticulous job of doing a line-edit or busily proofreading a manuscript (of which I have three to get through). During that process, I put my sore body into a comfortable position and let the critical, intellectual part of my mind take over. Sometimes I even have a metronome ticking in the background at 60 cycles per minute to match my usual resting heart rate (yes, there are plenty of apps for that). The point is, it works for me at that moment.

To further that point, as writers, we need to know what activities, outside factors, and other influences bring us into a place where we are ready to write. This could be a totally different set of factors than those that prepare our minds for editing, or just reading, or doing literally anything else. We need to maintain a certain self-awareness where we can monitor ourselves and realize, "You know, I do my best writing when I wake up," or, "My attention is the sharpest on a full stomach," or whatever. This way we target our senses and our moods to make the best out of a situation we're in.

You know my editing mindset already. Well, my best writing mindset is any time I am sitting in front of my laptop (that has become a physical cue worthy of Pavlov's dog), in some sort of public setting, with general noise in the background - but not too loud. It's better when I have been awake for a little bit, and preferably after having thought about personal things (I think that opens the creative doors for me). Once I have those elements around me, I just go into writing mode. Using just those little signs, I wrote an entire manuscript on my daily train ride.

Here's an experiment: Figure out what your best and worst situations for writing, reading, and for editing are (chances are they're all different moods). Then, for the next few weeks, when you find yourself in the ideal situation for writing, do some writing. Write literally anything - just start working that part of your brain. When the situation is best for reading, do that - focus on it and commit to it. And when the time is write to edit, well, hopefully you will be able to edit all that stuff you did during the writing phase.

Give yourself a month of doing that, then review the results. Look at what you've created, and examine how you feel about it. Hopefully, you will be in the first stages of forming some good writing habits, and you will be using them to the best of your abilities.       

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