June 3, 2014

Writing Process


My friend Bella writes honest, heartfelt words at She Told Stories. Last week she invited me to her writing-process blog tour. When I researched the tour, I saw it began with published authors--a look inside the minds of successful writers. Now its taken hold among bloggers; among those of us non-traditional writers. And I think that's a good thing. Sharing a writing process helps both the writer and the reader. 

What am I currently working on?
My long-term project is a book that relates life and photography. Each chapter focuses on a theme in photography that can be applied more broadly--to life experience and personal insight. Since I don't yet have my over-arching conceit, that project simmers in the background. In the meantime, I post regularly on this blog. And I carefully choose the words describing my Flickr photostream


How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I blend words and images. And I work really hard at each craft. My blog is not stunning photos absent of interesting ideas. Nor is it great writing with no visuals. I love the interplay between images and words. Individually, they convey a message. Yet together they weave a rich, textured story.

Another difference is that I share hard truths. I bare myself to the reader. My blog is about real life, which can be mundane, difficult, and beautiful.

Why do I write what I do?
I write to both understand and connect. Ideas come in and out of my mind. If one sticks, then I must write. Through the writing process I better understand the idea. If my writing stagnates, then I know the concept (or my explanation) is incomplete. When I finish a piece, I've gained insight I won't soon forget. 


The other reason I write is to connect. The most important part of my life is connection--to people, nature, and myself. Thoughtful expression from my heart is a gift I can give the world and it's also a gift to myself. I think openness begets openness. Bravery begets bravery. Joy begets joy. 

How does my writing process work?
My daily intention is to live mindfully; to notice beauty, act kindly, be present. Both writing and photography are about noticing--noticing details often overlooked. So part of my writing process is my mindfulness practice: meditation, walks in nature, listening. I often let an idea float around for weeks until its ready for the page. That said, it's important that I write every day, even if I have nothing special to say. I'm a firm believer in what Anne Lamott calls "shitty first drafts." In her words, "Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something--anything--down on paper" (Bird by Bird, p. 25). This is my tenth re-write of this simple blog post.


Now I introduce two talented, thoughtful, funny writers: Cyndi Briggs and Joanna Dane. I'm not sure if they'll answer these writing-process questions, but their blogs are worthwhile reading. I guarantee they'll make you think and make you laugh.

10 comments:

  1. This is a great 10th re-write! I especially agree w/your remark that you photograph often overlooked details. I commented to Eric after reviewing the photos from Europe that you have such a unique approach to photographing things and from perspectives that would never occur to me. Makes me see things from another view.

    - Jenny

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    1. thank you so much, jenny. you've been with me for the whole transition--from when i merely documented family get-togethers to now when i see the world in a different way. thanks for your continued support and love.

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  2. I do love how deep you go with your writing - and your images... so soulful! Thanks for sharing, Joy. xo

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    1. thank you for the invitation, bella!

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  3. this was such a wonderful insight to your writing process and inspiration. i've always struggled with writing "shitty first drafts" or even stream-of-consciousness writing (which i love the idea of). i labor over my writing too much the first time around and miss a little bit of that revision process! that's not to say that it comes out great the first time either, because i definitely would benefit from sitting with my thoughts and words longer.

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    1. so good to hear from you, emily. i'm glad you enjoyed this post. putting something--anything--down on paper is a habit that must be practiced. i, too, was resistant. i think most perfectionists are. but once i developed the habit, it helped me greatly as a writer (and as a recovering perfectionist).

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  4. this was so good to read Joy. as you know your photos and words always resonate with me so. so often i just hurry though my writing and my photos, you always remind me to slow down. i really enjoyed reading this.

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    1. thank you, cathy. i'm glad this resonated for you. in fact, we all need reminders to slow down. hugs to you!

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  5. hi Joy... I love your blog... I am a statistician and a professor and a person who is interested in mindfulness, being full present, etc. . I think what you did in terms of transitioning out is awesome and inspiring. I ponder making a similar choice. I just wanted to say hello and that I am reading.

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    1. thank you for this lovely comment. i appreciate your support and your kindness. i'm glad you're reading. and i wish you well on your path.

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