An Inside Look at the Ineffable Writing Process

The beauty of writing poetry is that there is no concrete, one formulaic way in which to write it. Every piece marks a learning process, a play with words, a way to let your mind wander into a different setting, mood, world. A meditation.

Behind my work, there are all different types of processes before starting a poem. The first major obstacle in writing, besides the initial self-consciousness, includes finding a comfortable and productive spot and just beginning. Sometimes, it seems as though the cursor endlessly blinks, with no idea in mind and a frustrated jumble of thoughts not written on paper. The best way to get myself out of this writing block involves free writing. Purely writing anything. Making your pencil move on the page.

Maybe just the same words or letters over and over again, but just the fact that I am writing helps to fuel something, maybe a random memory all of sudden. Alternatively, most of the time, I search online for creative writing prompts and challenge myself to use an old prompt that I’ve done before and see the direction it takes me a second (or multiple) time(s) around. The most important factor in this creative pursuit involves persistence, practice.

The creeping self-consciousness creates the worst barrier that prevents many potential writers from starting.

It means keeping a pocket notebook with you at all times because inspiration pops up at the most unexpected of times. It means following a regular writing routine, finding the best time, either early in the morning or late at night, when you feel the most productive, depending on the type of person that you are. Personally, I’m not much of a morning person, and I’ll admit that I’m not very good with keeping a daily writing schedule, but because I become so interested in what I begin writing, it’s difficult for me to stop in the middle of my piece and go to bed, so usually I stay up late to finish it.

The creeping self-consciousness creates the worst barrier that prevents many potential writers from starting and even continues to haunt me before I can come up with that initial phrase of idea that helps to ground me. It’s a voice that continuously tells you you’re not good enough, or that the piece needs more depth. And sometimes, though truthful, the main task comprises of simply writing the story down. Forget about the stylistics for a couple of minutes and figure out what you want to get out of this theme or what you want readers to feel or think after taking time to soak everything in.

Revision, a major component to writing, engages every part of a writer’s process. For me, the procedure feels simultaneously like one of the most frustrating and enlightening experiences. Frustrating because going back to my own piece and finding parts that don’t work takes a good amount of time, emotional effort and objectivity. Sometimes, the parts I want to hold onto the most are the pieces that create confusion or prevent the poem from heading into any clear direction. It involves stepping back a moment to ask myself whether the one small part that I spend hours trying to edit makes sense in the greater context of my work. Mostly, revision, an internal game of trusting myself, transforms into an opportunity for self-reflection, a way to gain a better understanding of a particular and most of the times intimate subject, theme or setting.

An obsession fuels poems. These themes are always helpful starting points that for me, usually never quite leave my pieces, even when I don’t intend it. Sometimes my never-ending search to connect back to my Hispanic culture never becomes fulfilled, even after six works with the same theme. My devotion to feminism drives me to create all different angles of viewing the biases that women face everyday and the countless ways in which it plays out. And sometimes, the more personal instances of including family members creates a deeper challenge not only for the reader, but for the subject as well. In writing, debate always pops up. At times, it may feel as though a writer exploits another person’s narrative. But the upside to writing about familial matters involves revealing vulnerability, or demonstrating your appreciation and love for that person.

Writing involves dedication. Dedication to routine, to the self, to a close examination of the surroundings in which a person becomes influenced by. Poetry transforms into therapy, meditation, a deep self-reflection and a new understanding or meaning to a conflict or life struggle. Creative arts therapy, a relatively new field of study, perhaps will create a more intelligible way of describing and explaining the “steps of the writing process”, but for now, writing remains a personal, mysterious journey that hopefully, more people will become more eager to become a part of in the near future.


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Tekke.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.