Sharing My Writing Process

Here I am in my home office. But truth is, much of my work is written on a laptop in my bedroom.

Here I am in my home office. But truth is, much of my work is written on a laptop in my bedroom.

I was invited to a party I couldn’t resist: a blog roll entitled, “My Writing Process.”

A new online friend Walker Thornton, extended the invite. My first instinct was to say no because I made the mistake of reading the bios of other writers who had participated in the blog roll. But then I said, “Shoot,” because that’s what we Southerners say. “Shoot, why not?” Because if there is one thing that’s supposed to be good about midlife, it is the ability to care a little less what people think about you.

But, I do care sometimes. Just not as much as I used to. But I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this blog roll, and the chance to reflect on why I write what I write. If you’re curious, read on. Thanks, Walker.

 1. Why do I write what I do?

From the time I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. I grew up with cane fields in my backyard and I would hide there sometimes with a book or a diary to escape a noisy household. Later, I wrote poetry and read lots of Nancy Drew books and eventually buried my diary to keep it safe from prying eyes because my musings were sacred to me. (I never found that diary again, by the way.) I have always loved the written word.

I won’t take you through my entire creative history. Or tell you about the poems I submitted to Scholastic magazine that got rejected (it’s tough getting rejection letters when you’re 10). But I will tell you that one day I gained clarity about my writing interest and it helped to direct my future endeavors. I was in the seventh grade watching the television show Bewitched, when I became intrigued by what Samantha’s husband, Darryl, did for a living. If you were a fan, you’d remember he worked for an advertising agency. So I majored in Journalism and Advertising in college and over the years worked myself into jobs where I could use the written word to: Inform. Educate. Create. Motivate. Sell.

I currently work in a Corporate Communications department where I sometimes lend my words to our CEO and to our brand.

But now, at midlife, my real passion is writing to inspire women to feel good, peaceful, happy, loved, encouraged, supported. After a midlife transition, or unearthing, as I like to call it, I wrote a book,Tao Flashes, to share with other women some of what I had learned. I took the wisdom of the ancient Chinese classic, the Tao Te Ching, and interpreted it through the lens of a midlife woman to offer inspiration on navigating the midlife journey with integrity, harmony and grace.

I started my blog of the same name, Tao Flashes, to write regularly about themes related to peacefulness, integrity, harmony and grace.

I have finally come to the realization that a big part of my purpose/passion now at midlife is to hold up the mirror to what is good and true. I want people to see beauty around them, in the everyday, in the small things, in the ordinary. I want people to see the beauty of who they are in their authentic skin.

So I write for the one or two or ten people who are familiar with my work and trust that those are the people who appreciate encouragement or need to hear some words of inspiration.

I write what I do for them…those handful of people, and for myself. I write what I do because sometimes, frankly, I need encouragement. And when I take the time to write about someone who is exhibiting grace, I am reminded of the importance of grace. When I write about doing our inner work, cleaning out the past, that’s a message to myself as much as it is to anyone who it resonates with. When I write about the importance of prayer or mediation, I am reminding myself of their value.

I write because I want to inspire and be inspired. I write because that’s the way I figure out how I really feel. Or as the writer Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write to discover what I know.”

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I read a lot of inspirational or motivational work; it’s become so much more mainstream. I don’t necessarily think my work is different; the originality comes from my own experiences or how I string together a thought or a sentence. But, I‘d like to think my work is heart-centered, passionate and infused with my own brand of love.

 3.How does your writing process work?

Have you seen the TED Talk Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray and Love, gave years ago? In it, she talked about her muse being a mix of inspiration and mulishness. I’d have to go with that, too.

When I wrote Tao Flashes, A Woman’s Way to Navigating the Midlife Journey with Integrity, Harmony and Grace, I did a lot of meditation. I would read chapters of the Tao Te Ching, close my eyes and feel into the message. The text in the Tao is complex and paradoxical; it’s like a mind f_ck, and I loved it. So after meditating and trying to feel into the chapters, I’d take a message from it and then write about a line or theme from the perspective of a midlife woman.

When I work on my blog (or work in the corporate environment), I sometimes get a little nudge, a whisper of inspiration from my muse. A poet at heart, I see symbols and metaphors in everything, so there’s usually a little grist for my muse to muck about in–if he shows up at all.

But most of the time, I sit on my bed with my laptop, sans muse, and my mule and I trudge along until the fields are plowed.

4. What am I working on now?

I continue to work on my blog and random requests for other work. Working full-time in the corporate world is a priority, so I don’t always have time to devote to my more heart-centered writing. I do feel there’s something germinating, trying to make its way to the surface, but right now, it’s still a seed. I’m not sure what it will grow into yet. I’m hoping, when the time is right, my muse will help me nourish it. If not, I predict my mule and I will be getting down and dirty, like two field hands ready for harvest, before too much longer.

I’ve tagged a writer friend, Connie McLeod, who lives in my city and whose life has run parallel to mine until finally intersecting last year through the blogging groups Gen Fab and  Midlife Boulevard. She’ll continue this conversation next week and share her writing and creative processes. In the meantime, here’s her background:

Connie McLeod is an art director, writer, creativity coach, world traveler, and a food and wine lover. During her professional career she has worked for advertising agencies, non-profits and healthcare companies, to name a few. She is currently creating marketing videos at Greenview Designs, leading workshops, facilitating small groups and giving speaking engagements on creativity and innovation, and branding. Her writing has been published in Huffington Post, Midlife Boulevard, and Better After 50. You can follow her blog at My Creative Journey.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.