Thursday 28 February 2013

First drafts and business cards

I had a set of business cards made last year, each one reading:
Sophie Gonzales
writer, blogger
Having posted regularly for over a year and a half, I can safely categorise myself as a blogger. But a writer? Well, unless you count creative writing assignments for university, not quite!

I have reasons for not writing creatively as much as I should be, but none of them are of significant value. I could always blame that controversial illness named Writer's Block (which, according to my course materials, does exist), laziness, or time. But, honestly, I think my most sincere excuse would be fear.

Take right now, for instance. It's a dark evening, and I'm sitting on a comfortable sofa with my computer on my lap. The lights are dimmed, the fire is calmly heating the room, my budgerigars are sat quietly, and the silence is perfect. But I'm still finding the construction of this particular sentence difficult; apparently because I'm thinking about it too much (and you're reading the version that's been edited five six seven times)! This is what annoys me about my writing process. The finished product always sounds reasonable, but it's the composition of a first draft which presents problems.

Don't think too much about what you're writing. That's what they seem to keep emphasising to us. When you have an idea, pursue it with reckless abandon you can edit after you've written down a hot mess. In theory this sounds like a fantastic plan, but in practise it's tough for me to do (especially as I'm a person who tends to over-think every aspect of life!). I'm terrified of making mistakes.

Luckily, though, studying the process of creative writing seems to be helping. Thanks to an encouraging tutor who is great at giving constructive feedback, and engaging study materials, I'm learning. Each assignment teaches me about a new aspect of my writing; whether it's avoiding clich├ęs or how to paint a more interesting picture.

But it's this last one which seems to have really brought out the 'artist' in me.

I have just studied a unit on poetry which, at first thought, scared me. During previous university modules I've studied poets and Elizabethan playwrights, but I have never been able to understand iambic pentameter. I didn't hold onto much hope when I began to study it again, yet this time it appeared to be explained in a way which made it pretty easy to understand. And what a massive relief it was! Suddenly I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.

I managed to get through the rest of the unit with relative enjoyment, and felt liberated when I realised that I actually understood a substantial amount. I then went on to construct a poem for my assignment that, regardless of what my tutor says when she returns it, I am very excited about. It might even find its way onto my blog!

Now I'm beginning to feel much more confident about writing. I've been making an effort to write my journal pretty much every night something I haven't done on a regular basis for years. I can find inspiration in the smallest, most seemingly insignificant objects. A sentence will materialise in my head, and I'll have to rush to find a pen and paper to make note before I lose track of it. And I can automatically see aspects of the world in narrative form. My brain may have found the right switch!

So this is where it starts. From now on, I must make an effort to write complete nonsense. I have to string sentences and observations together to make a story or a poem worth reading. My business cards will feel validated!

How about you? What does your writing process consist of?