Honor the Process

Every piece of new writing is a voyage into the unknown. There are things you can do that help the writing process–many things! There are just as many that dishonor the writing process.

Wiser published writers than I am often say, “You have to honor the process.” What does that mean exactly? I think it means you have to accept the complexity of writing, how it happens for you, and what you need in order to nurture the process. (Simple example: If you know you need seven hours of sleep in order to write well the next morning, you honor the process when you go to bed early enough to sleep those hours. You dishonor your writing process by staying up till all hours and arriving at the keyboard the next morning in a mental fog.)

Ways You Dishonor the Process

There are many ways we unknowingly and accidentally dishonor the writing process. We may:

  • get a great idea for a story, but wait until we have time later to write it down, and when “later” comes, we can’t remember it.
  • rush into writing a rough draft before we’ve given the idea time to gestate.
  • tolerate habits detrimental to our health.
  • allow such critical voices in our heads that everything we write sounds like rubbish, so we give up in discouragement.

We all probably dishonor our writing process in different ways, depending on personalities.

Ways You Honor the Process

If you wanted to honor the writing process, you might:

  • keep a pen and notebook handy to jot down ideas immediately.
  • let your idea grow and simmer before starting the rough draft.
  • eat good “brain” food, get enough exercise, and do what’s needed to avoid injuries from sitting all day.
  • do whatever’s necessary to silence the negative voices (e.g. pray, do positive self-talk, read motivational books, see a counselor).

In Deep Writing, Eric Maisel made this observation:

“I hope that you’ll take seriously the notion that you can help or harm the writing process and that, in a corner of awareness, you already know which of the two you are doing… When you find the courage to explore your own truth about honoring and dishonoring the process, some writing successes are bound to happen.”

What about you? In what ways do you honor the writing process? Make one small change today that honors your writing. (And then, tomorrow, make another one!)

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