On Writing

method for craft

Lately I test myself to see what I want to write on different platforms. I seem to have a hard time imagining who my audience might be; my writing seems to be a mix of social commentary, memoir and reflection in more or less organized fashion (or perhaps simply a rant).

Often my writing is fragmented, my need to put something out into the world doesn’t always line up with something that is a finished piece, so off it goes, rough edges and all. I’m trying to be more disciplined about this. I’d rather develop better habits on polishing before publishing.

Still, I need the motivation of putting stuff out there, to be part of something.

My desire to create original works is often so fierce that I question whether anything I write is original enough to share — does it offer something new? While this is an important facet of my process, it has the unfortunate tendency to cause self censorship. Self doubt precludes publication, and subsequent progress. So, what to do? A constant wrestling match ensues.

I believe the answer is to write more, and often. Work through it. Like piloting a ship or plane through a fog. Just keep going and monitor the dashboard for as much information as you can gather to inform the decision-making process. A writer’s dashboard.

So to start, I set up one of my web browsers with all the links I need to quickly review and edit any drafts in progress. For any drafts in progress (or even drafts long forgotten about), I allow myself to make small edits or additions and I don’t worry about when it will be finished. I focus on getting it to what I need for a complete work. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what that is until somewhere halfway through. Then I turn a corner and see the finish line.

It’s this turning the corner that matters the most to me.

Before turning the corner, I can feel lost and very unsure of my writing and goals for a work. So I keep including the threads that need to be there, as I weave together a narrative, and suddenly it becomes very clear what needs to happen next.

The certainty of those moments are golden. I would like more of them.

To navigate, I’ll continue to hone and calibrate my writing dashboard. A dashboard where I can track all the works in progress and what kind of traction published works are getting once I send them off into the world. Still, there is something missing.

This leads me to you, dear reader. I do not know who you are. Why you might read what I write. What your reaction might be. The delay between writing and reader reaction can be quite significant. It is what Stephen King refers to as a form of time travel, interestingly enough.

Common wisdom advises that a writer should write for one person in mind, and the rest will fall into place. Quintessentially, I suppose I might write to a poet and professor with a penchant for beatnik literature. Regardless, the functional value of this exercise is motivating.

To be continued.

a picture of a pencil resting on a pad of writing paper.
My favorite writing pencil and pad of paper. Photo by author.

© Copyright Dawn Nelson, 2022

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Dawn Nelson

Dawn Nelson

Artist, writer, strategist ~ creative nonfiction and periodic episodic rambling and reflection ~ www.dawn.earth ~ also on substack dawnnelson.substack.com