As in THE Jen to me, Jen Fitz. Or, as I know her, Crit Partner. That person who loves me enough to not only redlines my work, but calls me out on my style, makes me really use my actual voice, and asks me just where the heck I’ve been hiding and why in the world I don’t have a book project.
OK, I made the last thing up. She hasn’t asked me that outright. In fact, I haven’t talked to her much in the last six months.
Because that whole “I’m a writer thing”? It feels…crazy, phony, unbelievable. I feel very much like a hack. And no, it’s not that I doubt my ability to write. It’s not that I’m insecure, because I know I’m okay at what I do.
It’s more that defining myself as a writer feels somehow untrue, like it’s a past-tense or a future-tense thing, not a current-tense thing.
1. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
And this might be why I’m struggling with this whole “I’m a writer” thing and what it means in my life right now.
The answer that comes to mind first: Not a book.
Which means there’s hope for my sanity? Maybe. (I still live with a three-year-old boy, so I have my doubts.)
In actuality, I’m working on a couple of articles of various stripes, a few reviews, and some interviews.
Which feels like a whole lotta nothin’ next to a book, to be honest. I have friends who write books. I have written a few books.
But I also sorta prefer reading books to writing them. Then again, that might just be a season, like where I am in my mothering.
2. WHAT MAKES YOUR WORK DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS’ WORK IN THE SAME GENRE?
Uhhhhhhh…I use less syllables? I prefer hashtags as a mode of communication? I have horse manure on my favorite boots?
I could make a marketing pitch, but here, in my little sandbox, I’m not going to. I’ve been told I keep it real. I know I have a bullshitometer and that it goes off sometimes. Loudly.
But what makes what I write different? I dunno. Honestly. People like it. Or they don’t. And apparently that’s different. Or the same. Or not.
(No, I didn’t answer that question at all. Just didn’t want you to think I tricked myself on that.)
3. WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?
In the beginning, because I felt like I had to. Like I was supposed to.
It’s still partly because of that, but also because I’m paying bills.
And? It’s fun. And easy/hard in all the right ways.
4. HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
In all things, equal parts coffee-prayer, loose routine, and thinking-writing-rewriting.
For a book, there’s a process that involves a lot of planning and outlining and making-of-lists, which is a way of procrastinating and avoiding the Work of Actually Writing.
For anything that’s not a book, the process is rolled into hours and involves less documents and lists.
I used to think my best writing time was early in the day, but as it turns out, I write best when I just buckle down and just do it. Having enough sleep seems to help me work better, and accepting that words on a page
Both Write or Die and Scrivener have helped me tremendously.
My process changes as my life changes, and my life changes as my family changes, and my family changes…daily? Hourly? By the minute? Through the school year is a different deal than summer, and this summer is going to look very different than last summer.
I guess that, as a writer, I’m learning to be more flexible, and part of that is in letting my writing life mesh into the cracks and openings and closets of the rest of my life. Does that make me integrated? Or just constantly distracted? Depends on the day. 🙂
~ ~ ~
You know who I want to hear about here? Lisa Hendey. I’ve had a glimpse of her writing process and seen some inside baseball on it, and I so respect the work she does. That means she’s tagged. Ha!
And, for fun, also my good friend and blogging godmother Julie Davis, who does not consider herself a writer but who is. Oh, is she.
And if you, dear reader, are a writer who wants to share, consider yourself tagged by acclamation and be sure to leave me a link in the combox so I can mosey on over and check out YOUR process! 🙂
I think there can be something pretentious in saying, “Oh, I’m a writer.” Is it just me who feels that way? Probably. I hate identifying myself ‘as a writer’ even though writing has evolved as a practice important to my very being.
PS. I loved your reflection yesterday on ICL about Mama Mary. I think about Jesus as a toddler all the time. Mainly because I have a three year old terror right now. Good thing she’s so cute.
Zactly, Colleen. 🙂
Sarah is so completely a writer. And an editor. *the* Sarah Reinhard, I might add. (And nope, I never ask her why she isn’t working on a book . . . because I’m busy submitting 10 bazillion columns to her, which means . . . I *know* she’s workin’ like a crazy lady. At writing.)
Sarah, this was such a helpful post! I have been humbled in the fact that I do not (YET) have a published book, though I am working diligently on it (as diligently as I can with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, both of whom have special needs). AND I can honestly relate to your comment about that you initially felt like you HAD to write, that you were SUPPOSED to. I am increasingly feeling this intensity or spiritual tension that is nudging me in that exact same direction.
Your writing is succinct, poignant and so so relevant! I admire your ability to market yourself well, as well as the amazing way you use those hashtags (which I confess I know little about). Sometimes I wish I had closer connections with published authors who saw something in my writing that I believe so much is truly there…so that somehow, some way, some day (perhaps soon) I would be able to get my “break” so to speak. I feel like it’s just a matter of time before the “right” person comes along and sees my writing while concurrently BELIEVING it has great potential!
Jeannie, it’s all in God’s time, tis true. But yes, I have a degree in marketing too. So there’s that. And? I wrote online for something like six years before the big break which was, uh, a dumpload more work to do.
You’ll get it sistah. 99% effort. That’s my story. 🙂
Thanks for cheering. Sending some love your way too!!!
I especially enjoyed the photo that illustrates this article in your Facebook post. When I tell people I work from home, they often comment on how fortunate I am. That’s true, but I wonder how many of them would envy me the job if they saw the two laptops and work-related binders, etc. in my dining and living rooms. . .
Thank you for the background and behind-the-scenes info on your writing! – Lora
Glad you enjoyed, Lora. 🙂
Sarah, you inspire me so I am taking up your challenge and sharing my writing process—and passing in on! Thanks for always sharing your heart!
Here’s my post: http://joyalive.net/what-why-how-i-write-mywritingprocess/