trusting the creative process

Trusting the whatta?

The creative process.  I don’t know anyone (except for maybe Addie Zierman) who writes lovely first drafts, and that is just fine.  Freewrite, feedback, re-write, repeat: for me at least, this is the model of the creative process.  And every time I get to the “repeat” part, the draft is better.  If you can boil writing into a formula, that’s what mine looks like.  And then one magical day, the “feedback” part says, “Um, I like it as is,” and you’re done (until some agent tells you otherwise).

It’s bizarre.  Writing– this strange, mystical, spiritual experience– is somehow, for me, whittled into show up and write and then do it again.  After enough times, this clunky, staggering, unrealistic, forced, ridiculous draft turns into a piece of art.  I’m amazed by it.

I have not been writing fiction for long.  Fewer than five years actually.  So I am still in the dating stage with the creative process, still a little unsure that it will really work, uncertain that this formula really does add up.  I’ve spent the last four and half years watching it work (consistently!), and yet I still find myself doubting it.

Then I write another draft, and it is that much better than the last one, and I think in wonder, “It really is working!”

Just like any other relationship, I am learning to trust the creative process.  Show up, put in the effort, don’t get too attached, receive criticism, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit … and it will work.

I am posting this reminder TO MYSELF:

Jackie, KEEP GOING.  Write and keep an open dialogue with those who care about your project.  It will come together.  If it has come this far in 8 months, think of where it will be a year from now!  The creative process WORKS.  It can handle your doubt as long as you keep showing up.

Will you please leave me an encouraging comment?  I could sure use one right now.

14 thoughts on “trusting the creative process

  1. Everything you’ve written is true……just keep believing it! I’ve found we really need to have “thick skin” in this whole writing game, as rejection is all part of it. Strange business, isn’t it? I think the key is to just forge ahead and don’t ever consider giving up!

  2. I’m surprised that you haven’t been writing fiction very long. I just finished reading your novel and loved it. You made me really care about all your characters. 🙂

    • Brienna, that is so sweet of you! I am so glad that you liked my characters. Sometimes I miss Gabe and Neely! I am hoping to revisit that novel this fall to do some major editing before resubmitting it to an agent.

      I have a first draft of a second novel, YA. In some ways, it has been easier to write, and in others, it is MUCH harder. There are some really hard themes in this new story, and it is actually breaking my heart to write it. I have been crying for two days. Ha!

  3. As a writer of nonfiction (e.g. scientific papers and talks), I can say the creative process (draft, revise, receive criticism, revise again, repeat) works for me too. It gets more interesting when, as is the case for me now, I am writing with collaborators.

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  7. As a composer, a writer of music, I’ll let you know that the creative process works there, too! Sometimes the hardest part is showing up… is wrestling with one stinking measure for a few hours before it finally comes together. When I first started composing, I sat in the comp. lab at the local college at which I attended for PSEO in high school and thought to myself, ‘I’d love doing this if only I could be good at it…’ At the time I was doing it only for assignments for my Music Theory classes. But now I’m a Music Comp. double major with Music Ed.! Part of my drive to continue came from this quote, which was painted on the wall in the comp. lab where I did my first actual composing: “Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

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