Process and Craft
I have been a wife and teacher for 39 years, a mother for almost 35 of those years, and a dedicated daughter for nearly three scores. My desire to be a writer has been burning for at least 50 of those years. There have been successes here and there, but I let home and career responsibilities put those desires into a hobby status. A true writer’s process never developed
Now, with retirement a nearing reality, my children grown into independent adults and my parents remaining vibrant, time and energy to devote to serious writing may be within reach. I am steadily learning to a let the dust settle on the floors and horizontal surfaces for a few days. With just my husband and me at home, laundry can wait and meals do not have to be epic events.
I decided to not struggle with finding a workable process. Knowing myself, I would probably find a way to sabotage the discipline. Instead, I have been trying to accept my writing quirks and evolve them into mantras. I kept it to only five because I can remember five aspirations.
- Journal to exercise writing. Journaling is my way to practice writing. It is like stretching before the 5K run or running through musical scales. Words and sentences are rehearsed. Thoughts and observations are transformed into images from journal workouts. Warm up writing by journaling.
- Write anywhere and everywhere. Although I have a room dedicated as “the office” complete with a handsome desk and high back chair, I like to write wherever the spirit moves me. The kitchen table with coffee is a productive place, as is the sunny sunroom, backyard, beach, boat, and occasionally, a local bar. Portable writing tools offer opportunities to write where I sit.
- Fill writing space with music. I save sing-able music for cleaning and driving. Classical and instrumental music soothes my right brain and allows my left brain to process and write. Music adds a creative atmosphere to writing.
- Stick to the writing basics. I am a product of my pre-technology education. My first drafts are always handwritten. The kinesthetics of handwriting keep me attentive and organized in my disheveled way. I jot ideas in margins, add exquisite vocabulary, and draw arrows to move ideas and paragraphs. Handwrite to give writing initial shape and direction.
- Call writing “work”. The truth is that doodling, spinning in the chair, thinking out loud, and, eventually, typing something is laborious. Some writing is harder than others, but it is always work. It takes time and effort. Writing work is valuable.
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.