Some Thoughts on My Writing: Slice of Life 24/31 #sol16

slice of life

What I like best is when there is a certain hardness to my writing. When it’s stripped. Bare. Long on the nouns and verb. Short on the adjectives and adverbs.

In my mind, it’s rock or bone. Flinty and inevitable.

The voice is the hardest to find. So slippery. Always hiding from me. I think this is why I write: to break through to that voice that feels most authentic, most me, but only comes with effort.

The voice isn’t mine in a first draft. First drafts are long, convoluted, muddy affairs. Even I get lost in the tortuous sentences. I write myself into holes and cover myself with brambles. There are starts. Stops. Dead ends. Roundabouts.

The writing shows the struggle that’s happening in my mind as I think it through. It’s not just finding the right words for the thoughts. It’s finding the thoughts too.

In a first draft, my thinking is generic, abstract, often sentimental. Cliché draws me like a magnet. (See?)

Rough drafts are usually three or four times longer than finished pieces. So much gets stripped away before the thought becomes visible.

I rarely start a piece knowing what I think it is.

I have certain territories I mine again and again. Writing. Trauma. Parenting. Learning. Reading. Teaching. My best pieces are somehow about all of those things.

Even when I think I know what a piece is, if it’s good, if it’s worth writing, it will surprise me.

I am always writing to be surprised.

Several pieces fail for the one that works.






14 responses to “Some Thoughts on My Writing: Slice of Life 24/31 #sol16”

  1. Pat Avatar

    Interesting reflection. I especially like the phrase, “cover myself with brambles”.

  2. Shari Daniels Avatar

    Oh, how I love reading about writing – and writing about writing. I agree with you in that we never know where our writing will take us. Some writer-teacher-author-person wrote that “We write to find out what we think.” There is nothing that is more true. Writers know this. And, that surprise. Gosh, that is a wonderful thing. It’s the gift, don’t you think? Thank you for writing this today, Elisabeth. You’ve given me much to think about.

  3. carriegelson Avatar

    Funny, I sat down and started a piece about writing today but it wasn’t happening. Think I will abandon it now and just love yours. As I do. Then I went and looked for adjectives and adverbs in the piece I want to publish today. When I didn’t find many, I felt better 🙂

  4. margaretsmn Avatar

    This practice of writing daily is getting harder. I feel it in your post, even though it flows beautifully. I am one of those “pantsers” writing by the seat of my pants. Rarely planned out. Thanks for your honest reflection.

  5. paulabourque Avatar

    Your piece captures so many aspects of my writing process. I too, write to discover. Often what I begin with bears little resemblance to my completed work. I love the “a-ha’s” as much as the “oh-no’s”. I love this, “The voice isn’t mine in a first draft.” SO TRUE so often! I want to copy this and reflect on it when I’m ‘stuck’! Thanks for a great slice!

  6. Sonja Schulz Avatar

    writing is always an adventure in self-discovery.

  7. Rita K. Avatar
    Rita K.

    You certainly take us on your writer’s journey. For me, the surprises are the fun part. I never quite know what will appear. I enjoyed this post.

  8. Maureen Avatar

    I appreciate your reflections on this. I have such trouble finding my voice in writing. I find I like a draft or a third, fourth, fifth draft and then I re-read and I dislike. My faith in my writing is a fickle thing. I like how you reflected on your “territories”…I’m going to think about mine. Thanks!

  9. readingtothecore Avatar

    Elisabeth, thank you for sharing this insightful, honest reflection. Sadly, I think “writing to be surprised” is often missing from our classrooms. Kids are too busy trying to follow a formula!

  10. MaryHill Avatar

    I mine certain areas to for my writing gems. I mine traumas and difficulties reflecting upon what I have learned in the process. We have a lot in common about writing. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  11. djvichos Avatar

    Your thoughts and preference for rock and bone got me thinking about my writing. I always feel like my writing is a bit of a skeleton, and I wonder where the meat is? I tend toward the lean, but sometimes I think I miss possibilities skimming all the fat. Anyway, I really enjoyed your reflections. Drafting is a series of stops, starts, dead ends, and roundabouts, as you said so aptly, but good exercise, esp. when you find a surprise in one of those loopy turns.

  12. Wilcox Carol Avatar

    I think your writing has been amazing this month. Gorgeous piece after gorgeous piece after gorgeous piece.

  13. alwaysgoinghome Avatar

    “Several pieces fail for the one that works.”

    This says so much! This reminds me of Anne Lamott’s advice about first drafts…

    Keep on keeping on!

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