I was tagged by my writer friend, Gillian Marchenko, fellow IVP author, to participate in a #MyWritingProcess blog hop. Writers are asked four questions about their process, and then they tag other writers. If you’re reading as someone who likes to write, you’re probably interested how other people manage this sedentary calling. But even if you’re not writer, you might enjoy demystifying some notions about the writing life.
"Anyone who glamorizes the writing life hasn't spent a lot of time sitting in a chair." - Jen Pollock Michel
Q: What am I working on?
I’m working on all kinds of articles and blog posts to prepare for the upcoming release of my first book, Teach Us To Want. I’ve also begun teaching a three-week class on desire for my church. The past two months have been nearly as insane as writing the book itself, and it would be unimaginably boring to detail all that I’ve been doing. But let’s just say I’m been eating, breathing and sleeping the subject of desire. It’s actually been really helpful for me, though. The book itself is a narrative exploration of longing, but these upcoming essays and the class preparation have helped me to drill down into the practicalities of my book.
Q: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Oh goodness. I’d love to say here that I’m ridiculously clever and that what I’m writing is vastly different (and of course better) that every other book you’d pick up. (Read my confession here about this.)
But the real truth is I see a lot of women especially writing great stuff: women with great theology and skill for telling good stories. Check out, as examples, Bronwyn Lea, Briana Meade, Lore Ferguson, and Hannah Anderson. (And of course any of the Her.meneutics writers.)
Q: Why do I write what I do?
I always write to teach myself. I would say that I write less about what I understand and more about what I don’t. That was certainly the case with the book, but it’s usually true about the articles, too. I’ll read something online or in a book and think, “Hmm.” Maybe I disagree but don’t know why. Maybe I agree but only vaguely. I take those reactions and write, trying to make my own thinking clearer and more theologically sound.
I also write to keep my story. I believe this is integral to living a faithful life. We need holy memory, especially when we walk through the wilderness. (See Psalm 78.)
Q: How does my writing process work?
I wish I were more free and unconstrained in my process. Once I’m in the drafting phase, I tend to labor over each word and sentence. But something that has been helping me is entering into an earlier outlining phase. If I call it an outline, rather than a draft, it’s a way for me to move beyond my typical perfectionism and give myself permission to let it be a little messy and “in process.” The word process implies a sense of progression through stages, and as a writer, I’m trying to develop more patience with that progression. It doesn’t ever come out perfect on the first try. In fact, the more time I can put between an outline and a draft and a deadline, the better. The ruminating in my head between those stages is probably the best real writing I do.
I'm tagging some writer friends now so that they can share their experiences of the writing life: Natasha Robinson, Aubrey Sampson, Leslie Leyland Fields and Lesa Engelthaler.
Natasha Robinson is a writer and speaker. She recently graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership. Natasha blogs at asistasjourney.com and she is working on a book about Mentoring.
Aubrey Sampson is a writer and speaker, a pastor's wife and stay-at-home mom to three sons. Aubrey writes and speaks on the subject of shameless living, and her book on the subject will be published in the next year. She blogs at aubreysampson.com.
Leslie Leyland Fields is an author, writer, and speaker. She writes regularly for Christianity Today, teaches creative non-fiction, and is the author of nine books. (She's currently working on her tenth.) You can find her at leslieleylandfields.com.
Lesa Engelthaler is a Senior Associate with Victory Search Group assisting nonprofits to recruit executive leaders. She is a journalist who has written for publications like The Dallas Morning News, Christianity Today and Discipleship Journal. She serves on the board of Synergy Network and is working on her first book manuscript. Follow her on Twitter @lengelthaler.