Creating Something From Nothing

My wonderful agent, Dawn Frederick, asked me to write about my writing process as part of NaNoWriMo. Here is a bit about how I create something out of nothing, with a link at the bottom to the original post in its entirety:

writingI’m skeptical of of writers who talk confidently about their controlled, repeatable writing process. I can’t wait around for the light to be shining through the window in my office at just the right angle to get work done. I’ve had to embrace the hustle of the modern writer lifestyle and figure out how to write in the nooks and crannies of reality. Constantly triaging and juggling paid gigs and pipe dreams, tweets, blog posts and essays, agile and mobile, I write on cocktail napkins, post-it notes and text messages to myself.

Although my process changes depending on what the project calls for and what life demands at that moment, there are distinct, ever-present elements to my creative process that work for me:

1. Do nothing.

Doing nothing is not the same as procrastinating, but rather a highly creative space of hibernation. Without seasons of incubation, my writing feels forced, produced and stiff. As I mature, I have less anxiety about the days I don’t write. My process requires rest, healing and recuperation. I ingest beauty, live life unabashedly and thus acquire and absorb stories. Doing nothing carves out essential space where truth can brew and percolate and from which art can spring forth.

2. Think

Out of the nothing, thoughts begin to emerge, but it’s not yet time to write. Not all thoughts are worthy of being shared. I withhold the urge to jump into sentence formation for as long as possible. I become strategic about input. I read the best things I can get my hands on. I talk to interesting people and seek out documentaries. I research. I keep living life with specific thought lenses on that filter experiences. I sit and think.

3. Write on the go.

The better I get at writing, the less time I spend at the computer. My highest intelligence is kinesthetic. That means my body is smart and I do my best thinking when my body is moving. I start writing in the shower, on walks, in the car, while I am playing with my son. I carry a small notebook around and have a whole white board wall in my home office for jotting the good stuff, but the best sentences inevitably get stuck in my head. By the time I sit down at the computer, I’m brimming with momentum. Key transitional sentences, a clear flow, and several strong sound bites are already written.

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