The Writing Process

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the process of writing. What are the steps writers take in putting pen / pencil to paper? Fingers to keyboard? Is it logical? And why do we do it at all?

In rereading Annie Dillard’s account of an eclipse, she grapples with trying to convey what seems far beyond the clumsy container of language. According to Dillard in this amazing, recent interview, it’s the job of the writer to reproduce one’s own experience. Not describe it. Reproduce it.

No small task, but that’s the thought I keep in my mind every time I sit down to write.

Last week, a client asked if I’d write a note to introduce myself and my intent for a piece that will be shared with a larger group of people I’ve yet to meet. It was a good exercise to share part of my process, to give it context.

Here’s part of what I shared:

Research is always an integral part of the behind-the-scenes work I do before I begin any writing project. That research takes many forms: reading transcripts, conducting personal interviews, evaluating similar organizations’ work and materials, reading secondary sources, and taking lots of walks.

How about you? What’s your process? How do you begin?