As a creative, I’m sure you have a “process”, a series of behaviors that helps you produce your best work. You might not have defined your process but I bet it is there, something you find yourself doing. The process is worth examining; tweaking it might help you to recognize where you block or how to streamline it. In the spirit of examination, I found myself describing how I write:
Eric Maisel, in his book, Fearless Creativity, says that artists should “hush and hold.” In my work as a creative, I’ve found having an inspiration and then producing something is a process that requires a certain amount of “processing.” When I think of something to write about: a question, a strong emotion or even a job I’ve been hired to do, I need to let my idea incubate until it is ready to be expressed.
My writing process begins with the idea, which comes from the ethereal place that all creative ideas come from. I initiate the process by saying “yes”. Once I have accepted that I will write about something, next I have to figure out what style of writing is most effective for my audience and, more importantly, what is my message. If I need to learn more about my subject, now is the time to do my initial research, which can take a few minutes or a few months.
Then, I usually go to bed. I’ve found that my brain will do what it does if I “hush and hold”, forget about the idea and let it mature. A good night’s sleep or even a nap are usually all that is required but if I am in a hurry, a 20 minute meditation will do. I know I am ready to write because I can’t help it, the piece is ready to come out, almost fully formed.
Getting the idea out is the beginning of the sculpting, I’ve found my marble, now the chisels are ready to do what chisels do.
As my piece is written, I read it aloud, I want to write as if I am speaking to someone. While my formal use of punctuation and digression is not up to academic standard, I usually want to communicate in a conversational and persuasive style. I correct as I go, first reading for content and persuasiveness, next for spelling and grammar. It’s at times like this that I appreciate the miracle of the word processor, writing with a pen and paper really disrupts my flow. The word processor allows me to read my work and enter words like “ethereal”, I can punch it up without having to have a waste basket full of yellow legal paper.
My final step is seeing the piece in the medium that others will see it in, the blog, the advertising copy, the APA formatted paper. I try to read it again as a reader, what do they hear when they read my piece?
My process really never ends, I can read something I wrote years ago and decide to change some wording, words are like colors on a palette, I love to play with them.