My writing process so far

copyright protected mock cover

I am near the end of my first-drafting a novel journey and learning, growth, inspiration and genuinely rich experiences that have come out of it so far are bursting out of me. I didn’t have specific expectations going into this process of what it is like to start and complete a work of fiction. All I knew that it was time and I needed to do it. I have written non-fiction and poetry before and writing fiction has proven to be a very different experience. Poetry was a unique, completely spiritual and intuition-based experience and non-fiction is something that I enjoy and approach with a different attitude. I enjoy experiencing and researching and putting my findings into words. I have learnt a lot about myself as a person, as a writer, as a woman undertaking a novel writing and many things have been re-affirmed for me. I have a bit longer to go and currently taking a break and reflecting on the journey so far. Many writers would relate to some of my lessons, I am sure, as I found hearing the old wisdom coming through with each experience I was having and nodding my head. I have read and listened to many authors’ lives and experiences by this point. Many nuances of the journey are my own, and unique, however, and finding a personal creative path and voice, to me, is absolutely necessary and the most exciting part of the process.

Here is a summary of things that I have learnt so far on my journey of writing long fiction:

You will hear this many times and it is a life-saver advice for sure. Do not edit as you write. Just write without going back and editing and re-writing. Keep moving forward. Editing comes later on. The first draft (there will be many) is just telling a story to yourself. This will help you progress, eliminate doubt, self-critique, etc., which is not what the first draft about.

It is possible to write anywhere, anytime and allowing for a needed process on any given day to unfold is important. Nothing should be forced. Drop preconceptions, unhelpful advice, expectations put on yourself or through others’ experiences. Do it your way. Daily I would make a decision where I wanted to write and on what device depending on how I felt. I experimented a lot and it was so interesting. For example, I asked myself or rather tuned into my feelings on the day what feels good whether it is my sofa with a laptop in the middle of afternoon or would it be on my phone while I was out for a walk or as my regular set-up at my desk in the morning. More often than not I just knew what I wanted. Intuition again is your friend no matter what you do. When I first started I wrote early in the morning every day and it worked wonderfully for me. I am productive and eager during mornings, but as time went on I allowed myself to experiment with other devices other than my desktop computer and other places. I also found the second spurt of energy or a clear space in my head often appeared between 2.00 and 3.00pm in the afternoon, so I took that. Another way for me to write that transpired was in the evening with noise going on around me, TV in the background and people in the room. I wrote on my phone a lot. At the end it was wonderful to know I could do it anywhere, at any time. I also feel that when it comes to the editing stage that is where my handwriting will come in. So far I haven’t used it in this process.

Things can’t be forced and breaks are allowed and you will know when you need a break. I went through days when I felt upset by what I was writing, or my character would hide away from a conflict that needed to happen, or towards the end I just didn’t want to think, read, write and do anything. It all happened. It took sometime before my story began living within me and characters really came forward. Then there was another period of time before they started communicating. Becoming aware of the characters was great and it helped me progress as they took over and story began to be told through their wishes and needs. I gave over control and proceeded according to what characters were saying and how they would answer questions I would ask of them.

I love, love, love intuitive downloads or inspiration flashes, as many would call it. When it comes it comes in this complete, clear form and writing is easy. This happened to me during this process too and I was glad it did.

I enjoyed setting a schedule and managing my time. It plays very well into productivity, results and increase in your writing speed over time. It is good and I found writing something every day is a great tool no matter how many words and in however many sittings. Focusing and commitment are definitely very important parts to a writing process. A balance between order, structure, routine and intuition/inspiration is a winning combo.

I learnt that I do not enjoy making things up when I intentionally do it (intuitive writing is a different thing) and prefer writing non-fiction on the whole, but this might change over time as I experience fiction writing more. I trust it will become clearer and for now it is too soon to tell.I am a visual, sensory that needs to see, touch and smell ‘a scene’, ‘an image’, etc. before I can talk about it. This is probably quite common. You can’t write what you can’t see clearly is true for me.

During my process I had a critique group going where the beginning chapters were being reviewed. I found it helpful, motivational and helped me self-reflect. Criticism is good and healthy.Reading on writing is very helpful and so is reading books in your genre. I finally understood the importance of reading in order to write and writing in order to know what your reading preferences are. Again, I came to a conclusion that I like a particular genre and prefer reading non-fiction.

Writing as a therapeutic process. I started this project with the intention of it being for myself, as a process of learning the craft, releasing a story that had been waiting for many years to be told and putting something to rest. I did just that through my heroine’s voice and her intentions she re-defined her journey and told me a different ending to the one I conceptualised before. Changing the ending of something is very powerful I can tell you. At the moment though, as she is very satisfied with how things ended and she loves it she doesn’t want to go back and look over parts of the story that still need her attention. So partly, I wait and partly I employ some tools to convince her to tell me more. Writing a novel is a great opportunity to re-write the ending of whatever story you might have been holding on to for whatever reason. It is also therapeutic because you are finding and using your own voice either as a narrator or through your characters. You hear yourself for the first time, as I did. It was revelatory and strange, but again, powerful.

Alternating writing with a physical activity, walking in my case, always walking, works for me. I would write for two hours and then I need to get out. Switching up activities kept the routine going and just felt containing and balanced.

This one is more for the future, as I plan my next step and it is beginning to write as ideas come through, not putting it off. Writing continuously is important in order to improve the craft and define your voice more with each book or a project.

I found the process incredibly rich, fascinating and so inspiring on many levels that I can say I am in love with the process, not necessarily with my book or the idea, but the process itself. It opens up so many avenues for growth and improvement and makes self-awareness and aspirations for the future clear. It is an organic and alive process too, which, if allowed to unfold and live, will bring a lot more insights.

Image: a mock cover for my novel that I created with a few others and found it helpful in my creative process. Goes back to the point about seeing things in images. 

Writing reawakened

Writing gives me this rich, luxurious, extremely pleasant feeling that buzzes through my arms and into my fingers (just like magic does when I am in that dimensional self) and then the feeling settles right in my heart and in my throat and everywhere in between those areas. For those of you who are familiar with chakras you know what I mean about the heart and the throat areas. I think it is a simply perfect alignment and manifestation of the whole thing what is writing for me. Encapsulates its meaning wonderfully.

I can not tell you just how incredibly grateful I feel to have tapped into this dimensional self that had always been there but asleep for sometime now and this summer it’s reawakened. It happened amidst difficult silence that came into my day-to-day when suddenly clients disappeared, things got easier around me and I was staring into an empty space uncomfortably and then boom, it washed over me like a familiar scent. I never grounded it before, I realise now, and just kept it in my awareness but not engaging in any way other than observatory. This time it feels different as the feeling is very present and every day it is reaffirmed and amplified like a beacon of light that is shining from within. Truly wonderful experience.

This coming September I am planning on releasing a book of poems and I am excited to speak the words of my heart into the world. This is what my soul wants and I know it well and the last few months it has all been about what my soul wants. It is going to be my precious gift to my soul, to my craft, everything and everyone I love and the universe that I have experienced differently lately. The main heroine of the whole undertaking is, of course, Scotland.

What a roller coaster but at the same time it feels such a grounded something that suddenly slotted into place. Divine timing they call it and I am so on board with that.

I look forward to more writing magic that is here to stay.

That place

There’s this place I know far far into northern parts

It is raw with spirit, with rugged edges and foamy waves and winds that rip through your heart mercilessly

It is the wild part in me it speaks to the most

It is the unrest in my soul it wants to harbour like a ship of its own fleet, like a native creature long extinct

What I didn’t know it holds cruelty as it will ask you to give up all that is here and now, all that is day to day

It is made of another substance all together and it lives only by its own rules

It holds the biggest spirit in its rivers, mountains and forests that it will blind you with its majesty and beauty

Losing yourself to it is easy, effortless, delightful even

Pulling yourself back into life is near impossible as once that pristine air enters your lungs it is all you will find yourself being able to breathe and life, that life we have here on Earth becomes worth losing

Dangerous, you see, losing yourself in the overwhelm of the beautiful land, joining spirit before your time

The land is a perfect place for that, losing yourself. It knows the deepest grief and the most glorious rising towards another world where nothing matters but the feeling of belonging to it unconditionally, in surrender

A tool for raising self-awareness

In 2018 I have gone on a journey of tuning into myself, the world around me with nature continuing to be my sacred, supportive and grounding space on a month by month basis and it has been an incredible way of getting to know myself. I have not just been surprised but amazed at various things that I didn’t even know existed.

I took an approach of keeping a journal taking one month at a time, January, February, March, etc. Focusing my awareness of what happens within me at any given moment, things that arise when engaging with people and partaking in events or when being silent or walking in nature. Feelings that come up for me spontaneously and consciously, when in here and now, when asleep, dream observations, etc.

The main aim of the exercise was sharpening my awareness of myself in terms of qualities, strengths, weaker points, triggers, ways of relating, preferences in being, how well-balanced or unbalanced something was within and tuning into needs that were either always met or never met. These are just some examples of this practice.

Here’s a list of qualities I have discovered and zoomed in for each month as I became aware of those energies in me. Just to give you an example and yes, a lot of it surprised me and offered and opportunity for change.

Once we become aware of something we then are offered a choice automatically. We can choose what we do with that newly found information. That’s a beauty of making unconscious conscious. You can go as deep as you wish into what you discover, or observe it simply as it is or both.

January:

I have truly experienced myself as ‘nice’. This might sound strange, but I saw just how divorced I have been from myself in that sense. This time I felt it, really felt it and knew that to be true. I enjoyed that one. Beautiful sensation.

February:

I spent most of the month in a state of light and loving kindness. It was all about love, the pure kind, the transcendent kind. Another beautiful state. I was made aware that I am

able to go to that place a lot easier than I have given myself credit for in the past.

March:

I was able to transform my relationship with the physical pain and learnt to listen to it.

And so it goes… each month there will be a theme or a feeling that would centre around me and ask tor attention and I would journal around what came up. I have had an incredible year and partly that was due to my conscious choosing of being aware at all times and in tune with what arose without trying to fight it or change it. I observed myself and wrote about it.

At the end of the calendar year I was full of lessons and knowing more than I did last year. My experiment in active personal evolving has been very rewarding and highly interesting. I would recommend this self-awareness tool to everyone looking to dive deeper into finding out more about themselves including a much subtler layers of psyche, not just things that might be familiar or obvious. Super fun. Writing as a tool is generally transformative and healing. If you enjoy writing this one won’t disappoint.

This is something I think I will always continue doing in one form or another. It is now January and I find myself in a very different place to where I was this time last year and it grabs my attention and spikes curiosity. I am excited to enter into any new space that opens up in front of me. Remaining in wonder is an essential part of life to me and for as long as awareness, enchantment and tapping into potential is there, life is full of all things interesting.

Happy 2019, everyone!

You

Are you the wind that whispers in my ear or a stream beneath my feet with its bubbling tones

Are you a bird, a tree, a flower that I encounter or are you silence amidst the night air

I feel you in all corners of existence

Be it noise or quiet, dark or light

You are in all the tapestry of life that I perceive daily

You are moments of my holding breath and standing still when my heart wants to fly away to all the places that you are

You are my life’s anchor like the oldest wisdom there is that tells me to stay, to act, to dream and be

You are my life as much as anything I know that I am. Made up parts of one whole, a million of others merged together yet I can pick you apart from any other

You feel most of all like home, a soft fleshy part of my soul a colour of the purest blue and green and purple

I take you in with each breath as if the sweetest taste I have ever experienced

I am grateful to you for touching the earth and imprinting my heart with you and only you that for the rest of my days I will always know what it feels like to love, to grieve, to grow and surrender…

“I miss you… always”

“I miss you”, she thought to herself quietly flying towards it in her mind.

“I am here”, the land replied, always here.

“I think I know that now”, she breathed in easy yet with a touch of sadness.

“Any time, anywhere in your awareness I live”, the land gently spoke.

“In my awareness you live and like a precious jewel I carry you close to my heart”, she replied.

One day you are a stunning white bird singing so loud I can’t ignore you or pretend it doesn’t hurt to hear your song. The next day you are leaves under my feet content and ready to surrender.

In my awareness you live, in that awareness I breathe till the next time I step into your arms expansive and raw and scream again, ” I am here, I have missed you so…”

I know you…

I fell in love on the day the sun stood still in the sky and a breathe in the land’s air touched places in me I never knew existed

I fell to my knees struck breathless not knowing what I was or where

Yet deep inside my soul the knowing was strong as if an old tale I had heard a million times was unfolding in front of me

I fell in love just like that first time as if I had always known you

It is here I belong and only here the land speaks through me in language we both understand

In the silence of land’s dreaming I feel my blood streaming through it’s valleys, my tears part of its ocean and every cell within me matches hers