I’ve been writing a lot lately, and thinking about writing even more than that.
(Honestly, if I wrote as much as I thought about writing, I’d have written a set of encyclopedias by now.)
In addition to writing, I’ve been editing some of my older stuff, and submitting these old and new and old-to-new pieces to websites. (I had a piece published at Thought Catalog recently, and that was exciting.) I’ve been applying for jobs, too. Some counseling jobs, some writing and editing jobs. I’m at this place where I’m trying to figure out where I’m headed next. Trying to figure out how much of my life is devoted to counseling, how much is devoted to writing, and when those paths cross. It’s a pretty cool place to be. Terrifying at times, but awesome.
I just submitted my paperwork to the board for full licensure, and should be a Licensed Professional Counselor in a matter of weeks. That’s a strange feeling, that something that I’ve been working on for the better part of FOUR years is finally complete. It doesn’t feel quite real, yet. Maybe once I have the license in hand.
I’ve also been wondering what to do with this space. I want to write here, but I also want to submit the things I write to other places. I do want to have a place that’s all my own, but I don’t want to have it simply for the sake of filling a space.
A lot of the time, when I’m thinking about writing, I’m thinking about the crazy process of writing. My process is so weird. I love reading about the processes of other writers and creatives. It’s interesting. We’re all different but very much the same.
I’ve found that my best process is writing furiously, without thinking much about it. Letting my fingers fly across the keyboard without worrying about repeating words or creating run-on sentences. Then, I leave it alone for a little while — maybe for a few hours, or a few days. This prevents me from butchering it initially. For some reason, when I come back to it, I’m able to appreciate it, and edit it more kindly. If I sit there too long, telling myself it has to be done now! It must be perfected now! I end up slicing and dicing, and changing things that didn’t need to be changed. Sometimes walking away — for a nap, a walk, a meal, a glass of wine, a cup of tea — is the best thing to happen to my writing.
Other times, of course, the best course of action is to hammer it out, edit it as much as I can before my eyes cross, and press “send” or “submit” or “publish.” Like I said in my last post, sooner or later, we have to realize that it’s fine, it’s good enough, and it’s time to move onto the next thing.
The best part about writing, and the process of writing, is that it’s different for everyone. I don’t like books about writing or creativity that say IT MUST BE DONE THIS WAY! THIS IS THE MAGICAL FORMULA! How is that possible, when we are all so different? Right now, I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She’s talking about writing, and teaching writing, and she says “This is not like other writing books, some of which are terrific. It’s more personal, more like my classes. As of today, here is almost every single thing I know about writing.” What I like about that is 1) she’s implying that there’s more to know, because there’s always more to know, and 2) she’s saying that this is her personal experience.
I think that, too often, we forget about the importance of personal experience. Even if I wanted to write exactly like Nora Ephron — because, dear God, I do — I can’t. Because I’m not Nora. But I can write like Lauren. It’s like when people tell me “Oh, I love your hair! What do you do to it?” What they’re asking is “how can I recreate your hair on my head?” And my answer is some variation of listen, my hair is a hot mess and I have learned to work with it. I wash it once a week, rarely brush it, and it’s usually 80% dry shampoo. This doesn’t necessarily mean your hair will do the same thing, nor do you want it to. It’s the same idea as when I used to take photos of celebrities to my hair stylist and say “Can you give me this EXACT hair…and, while you’re at it, this bone structure, too?” You have to know your strengths and what you’re capable of. You might not have Jennifer Aniston’s hair, but you learn to work with what you do have. And that can turn into something pretty great, something all its own.
So maybe I will use this space to talk about the process, to bounce around ideas and inspiration. If you’re in the creative trenches with me, I hope you comment or send me an email. It’s a tough world out there for creatives, and we’ve got to stick together.