Lately I’ve thought about what a wonderful, complex thing writing is. I’ve identified some things that go on no matter how profound or trivial the writing is. It could be a birthday card, a novel, an e-mail to a friend, an advertising brochure, or a poem.
(This is not an exhaustive list)
A. There is a “raw” or organizing thought (or set of thoughts) that occurs to you. It could even be a mood or a picture you have in your mind.
B. Sequence decisions must be made. What goes where?
C. Filtering decisions. I can’t write down everything in my mind! What do I write down? What do I store for later? What do I dismiss? What is relevant?
D. The audience must be appraised, and reappraised throughout the process. Who am I writing for? Can they understand this? How will they perceive this? What if someone else picks it up?
E. We must parse through and apply a complex set of rules of our native language.
F. Word choices must be made, over and over again. Out of the range of words that broadly convey this meaning, which is the right one? As Mark Twain once said “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
G. Decisions regarding when a unit is completed must be made and continually reassesed? Am I done this phrase? Am I done this sentence? Am I done this paragraph? Am I done this whole thing? Will there be a sequel?
H. As we write, our “raw thoughts” are refined and sometimes even changed completely. Throughout our writing we are always, to some degree, reappraising the very thoughts that have inspired our writing. In some cases, this reappraisal leads to revising our approach or even giving up on the writing project! We may even come to disagree with our original thoughts .
Most of these efforts are made subconsciously by the writer, but they are there buzzing around in his/her head whether or not they are recognized.
This heavy lifting certainly explains why, even among those who love writing, one can get so “paralyzed” when it comes to trying to sit down a write! Especially when the creativity is just not there are the moment.
I love to write, but I also hate sitting there and feeling like the gears of my mind are choking on one of these processes. But as good old Robert Frost once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader”.