Love/Hate and the Writing Process

Gizmo courtesy Robin Riley

Some write; others wish only to have written. So many of us will say we have wanted to write since childhood. I too scribbled stories and plays and poems as a kid. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the love/hate of the writing process.

Writing Tip for Today: What are some ways to make peace with process?

Creator or Editor Love?

I’ve heard about those who are so gregarious that talking about writing is more satisfying than actually writing. Why? Writing is a solitary pursuit, at least in its creation. Some people draw energy from interaction, but others feel drained. Introvert or extrovert, it may be more helpful to decide if you most enjoy creating or editing or both.

I’m kind of a creator-type writer. I love new ideas, characters and plot lines. Nothing is more joyful than bringing these new ideas to life on the page. I start in the morning and before I know it, it’s past dinnertime. The exhilaration is a lot like starting a new visual artwork: utterly freeing.

Yet I know writers who love to edit. These writers feel satisfied when they polish their draft, refining every page until it shines. Many of these writers work as editors for their day jobs. And of course there are some writers who don’t mind creating or editing. Which one are you?

Put Hate Down

In order to keep writing, writers must get something out of the process. But sometimes you just want to throw your baby against the wall. Inspiration has left the room, your vision for the piece has gone off the rails and you’re hating on your own stuff. What to do?

I love to sew. But I often make mistakes—sewing a piece backwards, bunching up an armhole. When this happens, my rule is to walk away for a time. In writing when this happens, get up and stretch, go for a walk, do something with your hands like weeding or vacuuming so that your mind can work on solutions to the problem.

Another trick is to go work on a different piece of writing. Stuck in your novel? Go write poems. Having a hard time meeting word count? Write a long screed in your journal. The hate part of writing is an excellent reason to always have at least two different projects going. By switching, you can calm the bad vibes and see the work with fresh eyes.

Love to Hate

My childhood writing fantasies didn’t account for the frustrating times. I thought I’d just open a vein and let the words flow out. If you still dread the rewriting process to the point that you rarely finish anything, consider this: Writing IS rewriting.

Writing is like parenthood. You have times when your heart almost bursts with affection or wonder or satisfaction. But down in the trenches, you’ll also have times when you absolutely loathe your creation (kid or writing). Yet most of us don’t abandon our children. We take time out or go scream into a pillow, and then we march back to the battlefield.

All writers in it for the long haul must come to terms with both the creation and editing phases. Those who can’t or won’t reconcile will likely find another pursuit. It’s OK if you like one side of writing better than the other—most writers have a preference. Yet you will want to be the writer who actually writes—not the one who wishes only to have written. Get thy butt in chair!

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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