Writing Processes

I’m always curious what people’s writing processes are like.

Personally, I tend to write in my head. When I was in school, this was my primary approach to writing papers. I wasn’t procrastinating, per se, but rather than writing in the traditional sense, I’d spend spare minutes here and there mulling over the topic, outlining ideas, and mentally writing whole sections.

Then, eventually, I would just sit down and write it.

Not that I would get it right on the first take – my editing process has always been a bit messier. I use the page as a canvass. I have to be careful to clean up the bits of text I’ve left drifting at the end of a document like flotsam. Spare words, phrases, perhaps even whole paragraphs of text that I discarded as I went.

Those are the processes that have generally worked for me, but I’ve also gotten the sense that’s not how other people write.

It’s not something people talk about a lot, though, so I really have no idea.

For me, writing just always felt like the most natural way to express myself. Talking is too fast, too impulsive. It doesn’t allow for time to really think and organize one’s thought. It just kind of comes out all at once, and typically comes out messy.

So I’m slow to speak up, but I can write a storm.

I imagine that for people who favor the spoken word writing is more difficult, but I have no idea. I don’t know what other approaches there are or what other approaches work for people.

I only know that the process of writing makes me thinks of the words Stephen Sondheim used to describe the process of Georges Seurat:

White. A blank page, or canvas. The challenge: bring order to the whole. Through design. Composition. Balance. Light. And harmony…

White. A blank page, or canvas. His favorite.
So many possibilities.

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