A Different Approach to My Writing Process

from the NYPL Digital Collections

After the revelry of December, January always shows up with austerity.  People make promises to get more healthy or to take hold of their budgets or to institute any number of changes to one’s life to ostensibly be “better.”  But habits in personal improvement take time to form, and what seems like a good idea on January 1st by January 20th seems like a pipe dream.  This year, I made no resolutions of austerity.  This year, I’m embracing abundance in creativity and experience.

It’s a different approach.  We are used to starting new years with denying ourselves what we want, but I feel last year was austere enough, especially when it came to creativity.  As you know, I had a huge bout of writer’s block and depression which made writing so difficult.  I can’t say that I’m over it—just because the calendar turns over doesn’t mean we turn over too—but I’m trying to be open to creativity and new experiences in a way that maybe I wasn’t so before.

What does that actually mean?  It means cultivating my poor stagnating heart, plucking off the dead leaves and twigs to allow new growth to happen.  It means letting go of negative self-talk (or trying to), and setting some realistic goals about writing.  It means living with wonder and courting coincidence and making time to be a creative person.  It means going back to making Friday a day designed solely for writing and reading, and foregoing meetings and interruptions as much as possible. And it means to relearn myself as a creative being—something I’ve not been in a long time.

That all sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?  It does to me too.  And I know it requires giving myself permission to be creative.  I think last year I let the fear of “forgetting how to write poems” become so much a part of me that I did, actually, forget how to write them. How can that be? you ask.  Well, to be a writer, you have to be willing to fail.  A lot.  And I think I let that fear rob me of any joy I could take in poetry.  So anytime I sat down to write a poem, all I could think of is how bad what I would write would be, so I just stopped writing.

I also plan to read more poetry this year—I sloughed off last year—and to try new forms. Most of the poetry I read last year was Atlanta Review submissions, and that’s not the same thing as reading whole, curated collections with literary arcs and motifs.  It’s good practice to be exposed to new poetry but a lot of the submissions are raw and not fully developed yet, whereas whole books of poetry are more thematically driven, vibrant, and polished. They speak as a collection.

I think I sort of forgot that.  Hence, more poetry reading in store for me.

Maybe this smacks too much of “resolution”—and we know what happens to most of those—but I think in my case I’m just going to try and see what happens when my approach to writing is different. I’ll let you know how it’s going. 😊

1 thought on “A Different Approach to My Writing Process

  1. Writing in itself is a constant exploration of our selves and creative processes. I’ve evolved over the years to improve in many ways, but the only way I got there is by practising. So it’s great that you’re trying new things. Wishing you all the best in this pursuit!

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