When published writers expand on their process, we learn that it takes more than mere determination to find the words.
Calamity, serenity, even serendipity
I’ll always remember what Ta-Nehisi Coates said about creative breakthrough. Indeed, our roughest times in life can open us. Sometimes we emerge from those dark days bleary-eyed but fortified. Our words flow with purpose.
And of course there are other ways to break through. Muriel Spark endorsed investing in a cat. According to the novelist, its intrusive, unabashed stretch across our writing board can induce a serene state. Serenity attracts clarity. And clarity holds readers’ attention, no matter the form of writing.
What also pushes us through our writing is working with a good editor; someone who guides as we turn over ideas and position words; someone in sync with the writing goals and readers’ expectations.
If the intended message falls short, that editor brings us back to the idea, inquiring and suggesting seemingly weird, sometimes annoying, but mostly helpful things like: “Read that aloud. Do you hear that? Now let’s try turning your idea inside out. What do you mean to say here? Re-position your words. Consider trimming your paragraphs. Maybe try better words.” Ah.