An Unedited Journey Through Writing This Article
by: Rasa Puzinaite
What do office workers, Octavia E. Butler and tango lessons have in common? They’ve all been part of my writing process for this article. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look as I learn the ever-valuable lesson to always write true to your heart.
Writing from the Head
Three weeks ago I got a letter from the WWBL girls giving me the green light to go ahead and write an article for their new blog. I was very exited to start writing and opened up a new Word document. The joy was short-lived as I had to find a topic myself and I just couldn’t think of anything. I left it blank and said to myself, “I’ll think about it.”
The next day I was still thinking. I did some brainstorming on the topics I could write about. I knew it had to be something I was confident enough to talk about. But what? Since I was on the train, I looked around. Sometimes that’s all you need. It worked for me! I saw some women on the train that attracted my attention – women that work in offices. They were an exciting topic because they offer so many things to write about. To be sure I consulted my editor and upon getting a positive answer on my idea, started to explore the topic on the Internet.
The World Wide Web had a lot of articles and yet nothing real. To be completely honest, I found it boring to read the statistical numbers and hard to trust the sources. Perhaps it is my personal thing which I learnt in two universities and by actually working as an interviewer in Statistical Department. Data is not a 100-percent reflection of reality. If it is not, is it fair to make conclusions out of it?
Feeling some frustration because the article didn’t move forward I gave myself some time off. This is a good old trick to solve any issue that you get stuck on with no visible way out.
The break took one week. After I got some news from the WWBL girls I considered it to be a gentle push and opened my file again. The topic I was writing about had already changed at least two times. Sentences did not fill the pages and I spent more time looking at the number of words, thinking about the percentage of words left to write. The decision that came next was to do more research as other people’s thoughts might give me new perspectives and ideas. As a result, I rewrote almost all of what I had written before and took a break.
One more week later, I came back to it again. I felt resistance and in my heart and I knew that something doesn’t click together. I did it again and sent my draft to the editor with a hope to get some advice. However, I knew that it was the weekend and it would be more likely that she will answer only on Monday. There were two options – wait for the answer OR keep digging. So, I faced myself as that is the place where all the answers are. The answer was simple – I didn’t like the topic I chose. I didn’t want to criticize anyone about the choices they made and the issues they faced. There must be are reasons for that beyond my conscious knowledge. Also the topic was very sensitive and I alone didn’t feel able resolve any of its problems. So my next question to myself was, what would I actually like to write?
Movies and books – that was what I came up with. I shared my ideas with my boyfriend since I thought of writing about Olivia Butler’s book I recently read and found fascinating. His reaction was – Do you want to talk about the African-American experience, especially as a Lithuanian woman living far from the Americas? No… Maybe women’s movies then, I thought. I wanted to write about a film I really liked and after browsing through my memory I remembered “The Tango Lesson” by Sally Potter. This movie was about her writing a script for a movie and I thought I was in a similar situation. I opened a new blank page, wrote her name on it, saved it, closed it and went to sleep. There was still the feeling that after ALL of this I still hadn’t yet found my topic.
Writing from the Heart
This morning, I opened my laptop again and a new Word document automatically popped up. Unexpectedly, I was able to finally, after all my struggles, I finally wrote my article. The words weren’t forced and I wasn’t questioning myself. This is it.
Tricks to Help Survive The Writing Process
- Take a break and do something unrelated to writing
- Read and research on the topic to get some new perspectives
- Talk about your ideas with a person who can tell you honest opinion about it
- Choose a topic that gives you a good feeling and you are confident about, in other words – consult your intuition
- If it doesn’t feel right – keep searching, rewriting, changing
- Brainstorm and try out different topics until you find the one
- Turn to yourself and ask the true reasons why it isn’t working
- Feelings of frustration and irritation are not your enemies but your guides to find what you really want to say
- A blank page is not scary. It is full of opportunities.
- Writing starts from a word. If you don’t know what to write, write any word and see where it takes you.
- Look around you and observe what’s in your environment as there might be some writing clues
- There are no mistakes, just lessons
- When your head doesn’t work, switch it off and write from your heart.
- Enjoy all of the process!
Learn from my experience, take these tricks, go forth and write what about what calls your heart!
Read my throughly researched but just-doesn't-quite-feel-right first draft here.