In praise of finding your own writing path.

This morning I went for a walk through the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary. For those of you not from New York, this is a wetlands area in the Hudson River across from West Point. It’s beautiful and quiet, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few interesting birds.

I knew I needed to write this post, so–like all writers–I was thinking about my approach to the writing process as I hiked up some of the steeper bits and moseyed along the boardwalk through the cattails and marsh grasses that are much taller than I am. There were stretches where I couldn’t see beyond the thick green, but I have been here often enough to know that if I just keep on going, I’ll get to the places I want to go.

I thought I’d be writing with some grand advice about finding your way, but I think the only addition I can make to all the words that have been written about the writing process is the importance of finding what works for you and trusting it.

For me, this means being honest about the magic of writing in the early morning. It isn’t always easy to convince my tired body that it will be happier at my desk than snuggled under the covers, but I know through years of experience that my most productive and creative work is done before the house is awake. That’s not for everyone. Some people have that enchanted time after midnight or in the middle of the afternoon. Once you know when it is, honoring it seems prudent.

Trusting what I know, though, can be hard. That’s especially true when the words come slowly. I’m not a particularly quick writer. To battle frustration I have to actively remind myself to trust what I know: write early no matter what, keep to my daily word-count goals, read great writers, and devote time every week to improving my craft. Even when I can’t see above the weeds–or cattails–if I follow my path, eventually I’ll get to a place where I can see the view. And, in the meantime, the walk through the weeds is part of the journey.

One comment

  1. I agree! My best writing time is late morning into early afternoon. And my struggle through the weeds involves plotting. Yes, I have everything mapped out. I know how things will end and have a good idea how I’ll get there. But I also know that the best stuff comes as serendipity. For a plotter, that’s hard. Involving trust–like continuing to walk through it, knowing that walking blind is part of the journey.

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