Writing is a Process. Live It!
Based on Tim Denning’s advice in, “How to Make Six Figures on Medium” I raced to write 100 articles. I thought I was off to a decent start. My goal was an article a day. For a few months during the COVID-19 pandemic I was not required to report to work, but I do have two boys at home for whom I serve as cook, nutrition specialist, IT support, boredom crusher and sanitary officer. I don’t have as much free time as one might think.
I found myself frustrated this morning that I wasn’t making progress on any of the twenty-something article ideas I had in my One Drive queue. I read for about ten minutes, then went for a walk outside.
A bit of nature and mind wandering seemed to abolish what is commonly referred to as “writer’s block.” If writing is viewed and treated as a holistic process, I don’t think there is such a thing as “writer’s block”. Being a writer does not require you to constantly clickety clack away on a keyboard, ever spewing out seventy words per minute.
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash
Society celebrates productivity. In fact, it teaches us to revere it as a deity.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines productivity as, “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.”
People simply can’t always produce output. Any output requires input. For writers, productivity may be expressed in words per minute or articles per day, but what is your input?
Productive writing, quality writing takes time. The ideas you want to convey, with a well-designed combination of words, requires pondering.
I call it “marinating.” If I let my ideas and words marinate, the fare will be savory and delectable. Life provides the oils, juices and spices of the marinating process. Productivity for writers must take into account the time needed to forage for “marinating materials.” It is productive time.
I never know what oils, juices and spices life might send my way, but they always find their way into one final piece or another. All of life is a part of the writing process. It is part of productive writing. Let it be so recognized.
Letting my mind wander while I water the garden,
Listening to a podcast,
My husband’s kind words and support,
A chat with a neighbor,
Reading a book,
Walking the dog,
Life’s unexpected experiences, good, bad and indifferent,
My children’s words and actions,
Hiking through the woods,
Lying awake at night thinking about what I have written,
Any of these can conjure up new ideas or new ways of expressing ideas or connections between ideas I had not yet considered.
Photo by Sarandy Westfall in Unsplash
Writing (like life) is a flow and each moment, in my opinion, is productive. Being a writer doesn’ mean pumping out words onto a document every hour of every day. Output requires input. Experiences and time for reflection bring written work to higher standards and deeper quality.
For me, writing is not just about making a buck. Sure, everyone needs to make a buck. I have a good job with a good salary, but it doesn’t hold purpose for me. Writing does. I don’t write an article for its monetary prospects, but with the intent to touch a heart, change a mind, comfort a soul. Most often, it benefits my own heart, mind and soul. If others benefit, the reward is that much sweeter.
I write to reach out to the world and leave something behind when I am gone, whenever that may be.
I write to have a voice that can be heard by more than those in my immediate circle.
I decided to abandon the race to 100 articles. Instead I have committed to do some writing every day. Publishing a piece every day is not my goal. Some days I will flesh out three or four ideas and publish nothing. Other days I may complete one article I had started some time ago and publish it. On an inspired day, I will publish a few. On those days the ideas, the messages, the stories, just come together. The marinating process is complete. The dish is ready to cook for a bit (edit and polish) and to serve (publish).
Allow yourself to recognize every moment, every experience as a part of the writing process. You will be amazed at what delicious cuisine you conjure up.