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Embrace Your Fascinating Process for Reliable Progress

Empower yourself to grow as a writer

Jordan Whitfield i.e. play, narrowed focus, getting space…see below.

We practice habits whether we know it or not. Who doesn’t have a morning routine with a distinct pattern that gets them going each day? These patterns form a process. Allow me a moment to examine a specific process of writing, but the experience is similar for any creative endeavor.*

The creative process makes new connections between old ideas. Habits of creativity result from recognizing unknown relationships between concepts. James Clear

Narrow focus-expand fascination

In this age of knowledge it’s easy to find myself overwhelmed with information and ideas. Narrowing my approach to a laser focus positions me to pare fluff and hone in on what I wish to convey. For example, I have written quite a few haiku. Three lines and seventeen syllables traditionally comprised of two five syllable lines with a seven syllable line in between. A design to create a meaningful concept that spurs the reader to think and feel in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Seventeen syllables to convey a provocative idea. That’s a tight window if you will. My fascination rises to the challenge of conveying meaning in such a concise manner.

The process of constricted focus on the construct of a Haiku resulted in expanded fascination. This tightened approach proves reliable time after time no matter what I’m working on.

A few days ago I wanted to write a haiku. As I played with words on paper an idea rose from my head for a haiku about Haiku. While I’m likely not the first to consider that idea, I’ve never put the two together. After employing the process of narrowed focus to expanded fascination I compared the writing and the meaning in a different way.

Play and seek new connections

Play-like activities put us into into a psychological state where it’s okay to fail, where we’re free to wonder “what if?” Play provides the opportunity to freely explore the unknown. As a result creative insights are much easier to spot. Brian Sutton-Smith

Play is a vital piece of any creative process. Going back to creating haiku, it requires playing with word arrangements and sound connections that are unconventional. Play involves imagination, getting outside the wisdom of the crowd so to speak. It puts us in touch with our inner artist who most certainly is a part of us with child-like qualities.

Kids often see connections between things adults have learned to ignore.

Get some space

Once the whole process is churning-at some point escape. Turn your back on it and let it sit. This is like kneading bread dough and letting it rise slowly. Author Natalie Goldberg call it turning the compost.

Like right now 13:32 CST I’m going to play disc golf and hike for a while... at 18:15 I’m back. In addition to hiking and playing disc golf I also gathered the last items needed for tax purposes. Enough of that crap, time to get back to my reality- this article.

Come back & take another look

So I come back to the idea and look at it with fresh eyes. While gone I thought about it a few times. I may have looked at it while walking and added a few notes via my phone. Movement seems to stimulate my creative flow. I’m energized and had enough space for my brain to knead an idea. And like great bread it may need to be knocked down a time or two. In other words, depending on the size of the project, I may have to step away more than once.

Reshape and refine

Once I think I’m finished I wait and let it settle for at least a couple of more hours. Then I edit a second time trying to make sure I’m clear and concise. Also like homemade bread I want what I’ve written to feel fresh. There’s nothing worse than stale, moldy writing. I’ve written my fair share of it and will again, but hopefully less often and with more appeal.

As I’ve taken some space a time or two it becomes easier to trim the fat. To revise using a philosophy of less is more. I know readers have limited time and I intend to communicate the most possible with the least space. However, my work has to entice the reader. When I write I have one person in mind who will read the piece. Who I focus on typically changes depending on any number of factors. That’s a whole different article.

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. Kurt Vonnegut

This process put in practice expands my progress as a creative writer. In fact, this process empowered me to finally honestly call myself a writer. And that is a dream come true! Below is the haiku I wrote about Haiku.

To Haiku

Syllabic haiku 
hoarding language, words profound,
mystery unravels.

*With inspiration from James Webb Young’s A Technique for Producing Ideas.


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