During the past year of writing a book, I have also been reading and collecting good material about the actual process of writing. I’ve gobbled down some classics such as Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, On Writing Well by William Zinsser and The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. I’ve also read some informative books such as Thinking Like Your Editor by Susan Rabiner and Alred Fortunato and Wrestling With Your Angels by Janet O. Hagberg. I’ve learned a lot about the mechanics of writing.
I started this journey as a complete “newbie” and fifteen months later, I think I have graduated to becoming a “not-so-ignorant-but-still-a-newbie.” I think I can confidently say that there is movement in the right direction but I am also painfully aware that the journey is long and arduous.
I can totally relate to a humorous article by Adam. S. McHugh – In a nutshell, this is what he has to say about the phases of writing.
1. The “Aha” Phase – this is the phase of discovery. I begin to believe that I have valuable things to say and that others will be interested.
2. The Pulitzer Prize” phase – I become convinced that my ideas are brilliant and my writing is profound. Stephen Hawking will read my book and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
3. The “Total Incompetence” phase – This one follows about ten minutes on the heels of the Pulitzer Prize phase. I’ll begin to encounter obstacles in writing. I will begin to question everything, including why I’ve ever thought I could write a book.
4. The “Complete Disorientation” phase – Once I power through stage 3 and finish a draft of my chapter, I go to read it over and immediately move into this phase. This is the phase where I find myself cleaning my house a lot – my manuscript is a mess but boy, my writing space is clean!
5. The “It Doesn’t Totally Suck” phase – after rewriting several times, I get to a point where I think that maybe there are a few nuggets of insight in here and maybe a few people will actually want to read it. Then, it’s back to Phase 1.
It’s so true! The writing experience is such a roller coaster of accomplishment and failure. There are glorious moments of “aha-ness” when the ideas flow like honey but equally as powerful are the not so “feel good” moments when I realize that I haven’t articulated well or written from my heart.
The good thing is that I’m learning to embrace both the highs and lows. The highs are lovely and they remind me of my passion for writing this book. God gives me many moments like this, for which I am very thankful.
The lows are painful but they drive me to Him – for perspective, for freshness in my thinking and motivation to continue. God gives me many moments like this too, for which I am also very thankful.
I can tell you this – I’m never bored with writing. The whole “package” is exhilarating.
For those who have visited our home, you know that we live VERY close to an active railroad tracks. Although I’ve gotten used to the sound, guests constantly remind me that there are a number of trains that go by during the day and night. Sometimes, I stop and watch a train pass my house. The thought that goes through my mind is this: If there weren’t railroad tracks, there would be no ability for trains to roam all over the country. It’s the tracks that give the train mobility.
It’s the same with writing. There are foundational things to learn about writing a book. I have to respect the basics so that I can be creative. It all takes time and work – I can’t take shortcuts and I can’t hurry through the process.
The thing is….I love the discipline AND the freedom.