It was near this time last year that I woke from a thirty year slumber and started writing again. I wrote whatever came to mind. It’s a time in my life I’ll never forget. Somewhere between handing out popsicles to my children and their friends, and chasing my son in the backyard, I wrote.
I felt like this very tree in my front yard, exploding out of the hard grounds of winter into sunlight. I finished a manuscript, written in a disorganized madness. I read it over, gleaned what lessons I could, and moved onto National Novel Writing Month. NaNo passed in a caffeinated, sleep-deprived funk. But like the scene outside my window- all ambers, crimsons, and smoke of burning leaves-my perspective changed.
After all, you can’t hold onto any season for long.
As a few readers may know, I spent the winter digging graves for all the darlings needing killing in my NaNo novel. It is cold and hungry work. I handed over my first chapter to critique partners, and though they promised I had something worthy, I knew my groundhog didn’t see its proverbial shadow. I retreated from the sunlight a little, but found there’s beauty in winter light and hard work.
I discovered something about my own creative process. There are defining moments like this in any creative’s life- writers, artists, musicians. It’s not a matter of fitting a label- pantser vs. plotter or organic vs. organization.
Find the process that suits you. If you can’t go over or under a block, tunnel through.
I knew I needed to let my manuscript rest, so to speak. I’m not only a pantser/plotter hybrid, but one of those oddballs who needs to bury the story deep and let it soak in the primordial juices of my subconscious before further metastasis.
I never walked away. I asked questions of my characters, reconstructed the plot a thousand times in my mind, scribbled notes, jotted ideas on odd pieces of paper(once on a bubble gum wrapper!) I continued to tend my little fledgling. I learned to love it more, and found its heart.
These are the seasons of writing.
I believe this: The harder we try to force and cultivate the process, the more our own creative capacity resists us. Just breathe and take it one word at a time.
And while you find your rhythm, write, read, meditate, and write some more.
Have you recognized junctures in your writing life? How did they affect your creative process?