How do We Keep Improving our Writing Practice?

Writing Your Destiny picI spent over a decade of my life as a professional business writer. Add to that my years as a Sustainability Director at a non-profit in Chicago, which required that I do a lot of grant writing and create many types of marketing collateral,  I did a lot of writing.  Even during my years as a product engineer, writing was a big part of what I did to make money.  And during all these years, I appreciated editors.

I never had much problem in receiving criticism on ways my business writing could be improved.  It wasn’t difficult to keep a distance from my writing.

Creative writing is different for me, but probably shouldn’t be so much.

Many years ago, I took a few classes where my creative writing was critiqued in workshops, and I mostly hated the process.  I can’t really imagine getting a MFA where my creative writing would be workshopped and made to fit some mold.

Yet, I have to admit that I will need an editor for my novels.

I have been refining and editing drafts of my novels for years.

This year, I will finish the first novel, because my attitude about writing the novel is beginning to feel like it did when I was writing professionally for someone else.

I have stopped thinking of my creative writing as needing to be perfect or precious.  I want it to be beautiful, which I believe is a different focus.

Thought for today:  How do you view your writing as less precious, so that it can be edited and refined to be the best it could be?

Energy Booster for Writers

writing

writing (Photo credit: found_drama)

This is the final post in my current series of blogs about taking the brakes off of your personal energy and innate goodness.

Today, I am sharing ideas about why it matters for writers to understand our personal energy, and to be aware of the type of energy that we’re putting into our writing.

Nowadays, most of us are bombarded with information and writing that is packed with different kinds of energy.

Some communications are uplifting, funny and inspiring.  Others are angry, demeaning, fearful.  Of course, many pieces of writing are boring because the energy of emotion is not present in them at all!

Your writing has an energy to it that often reflects the kind of day that you’re having.  This doesn’t mean you should only write when your energy is “good”. Sometimes, the “negative” energy is just what a story needs to create drama and interest.  So, it’s not necessary that your energy becomes all sunshine and roses.  However, it’s helpful to track your energy over the course of time to notice how the type of energy you are experiencing and creating affects your writing.

south to north view of chicagoland area

south to north view of chicagoland area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Energy Boosters for Writers worksheet is something I’m putting together for my 7 Elixirs class for Writers that I’ll going to be offering this fall in the Chicago area.  It’s based on the writing coaching work that I’ve done in the last few years.

I’ve noticed that finishing projects often requires that we manage our energy for the toughest part of writing which is when we are refining our work.  This is the time when we throw out good and sometimes great ideas for the sake of a story or grant application or marketing brochure or memoir.

This worksheet may not make complete sense, because it’s out of context to the rest of the course that I’ll be giving.  Yet, I’m sharing it anyway because it’s rather self-explanatory, and shows you a different way of managing your time and energy in conjunction with your writing.

Energy Booster for Writers Worksheet

Hope you’ve enjoyed this series of blogs!  Tomorrow, we’ll be back to some literary musings.

Related articles

Does the Soul of Your Book Have Cravings?

Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin

Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many ways, I’ve had an ideal writer’s life for the last few years.  For a while,  I was very frustrated with myself, because I felt like I was doing the novel-writing process in the wrong way, and that I was missing some right way to be creative.

For the last six months, I’ve taken a different approach to giving birth to my novel.  Rather than thinking of novel-writing as a project or task to be completed, I’ve begun to work with the soul of my book, and treat it as though it were a person rather than an inanimate object that will sit on a shelf or in the Amazon cloud.

One thing that has been helping me to move forward is to look even more closely at the parallels between creating a novel and giving birth to children.

My child-bearing experience was different from many women.   I stopped working as much as possible when I had both my kids and enjoyed the pregnancy.   I believed and still believe that women should treat themselves very kindly when they are pregnant.

On the whole I look back at my pregnancies as some of the most enjoyable times of my life, because I felt that I was doing sacred work.  My belief was that my children were special people being sent by God to live in the world and take part in the Great Turning of our world.  I still believe they are my greatest creations.

Yet, I also feel that the books that I’m writing could be contributions to changing the way we look at the world to support a Great Turning towards honoring life and the earth more than greed and materialism.  Creating the novels has actually felt more difficult for me than having children.  So, I’m starting to honor more and more what I did when I was pregnant.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed.

During both pregnancies, I had cravings for foods that I never liked before then.  The one I remember the most is pink grapefruit juice.  I couldn’t get enough of it while I was pregnant with both of my children, and hated grapefruit juice before that time.   I still like to drink it every so often, because it reminds me of that special time in my life.

Led Zeppelin, January 1975, Chicago

Led Zeppelin, January 1975, Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My novel has different cravings.

While I’ve been writing my novel, I’ve had a strange desire to listen to Led Zeppelin music, which I didn’t like at any other time in my life although, though I had always loved the song Kashmir.  As I started writing more deeply, I started to get weirdly obsessed with listening to Kashmir, and then decided maybe I should listen to more Led Zeppelin and found I now like it.

It’s the strangest thing to me, but I feel like somehow Led Zeppelin music has a certain kind of soul to it that the soul of my book craves.  For someone who is fairly introverted and loves quiet, lyrical New Age and Classical music this attraction to Led Zeppelin music feels odd.

On top of that,  I started writing my own music and lyrics.  That has helped me to hear the book’s story.  I attribute these new connections with music to the soul of the book requiring me to be lyrical in a different way for it.

When I was pregnant with both of my boys, I had a certain way of living that I’m now embracing with novel-writing. While pregnant, I allowed myself to:

  • Trust that something bigger than myself was working through me.
  • Treat that time of giving birth as a holy gift and treasured it.
  • Enjoy the process of listening to what the soul of my book needs to grow and flourish.
  • Act upon what the soul of the new life in me needs.
  • Appreciate that giving birth takes a lot of energy so I deserve to be kind to myself.
  • Allow the new life to come forth when it is ready.
Past Childbirth Scene

Past Childbirth Scene (Photo credit: nep)

This is my way of giving birth to children and novels.  It’s not for everyone.  Other people who I knew worked very hard while they were pregnant and it was not a big deal to them.  They could multi-task.  For the most part, I could only do one thing.

Other women’s childbirth experience was very different from mine, but also good for them.  Just like there are other people who work full-time and write great books, there are many ways to be a writer.  Some people need quiet, some need to be writing around other people.

We all have to find the way to give birth that is best for us.  There is no one size fits all approach to writing.

Have you found your own path to honoring the cravings and soul of your writing?

 Related articles