Monday, September 24, 2012

Writing Insider: My Process

All Rights Reserved. Becky Cavender
Recently at one of our writing group sessions in Yangon, a friend asked me what my writing process is. So, I thought I'd share.

My writing process depends on what type of writing I'm doing.  Is it like that for you, too?  Most of the time, I write at the computer, unless I'm writing poetry.  I write poems by hand, in a notebook.

Whenever you find me at the computer, there's always, always be a gargantuan sized mug filled with tea or coffee. Did I say always?

Today, I drank Stash Tea's Licorice Spice, one of my favorites; but since we shipped it from the USA when we moved, I don't drink it often.  I want it to last.  In case you're actually interested, I drink whatever strong brand of English Breakfast tea I can find here. NEVER Lipton's Yellow Label. (It's so nasty and weak!) I nearly cried when we ran out of PG Tips. (Can't even find it in Bangkok!)

When writing poetry, I usually sprawl out between three notebooks: a large sketch book (for making lists of words and ideas); and two other notebooks where I write and rewrite and rewrite. I tear out pages of one notebook + put it next to another and compare the lines. Rewrite.  I write on my bed, laying on top of pillows with books and my sari jewelery box filled with pens (pictured). It's messy. And I need to be alone.

After identifying words I like, I go back, circling them with a colored marker + make more notes. Soon, I start writing, putting those lists of words together.

What is your process?

Sometimes I get caught in the comfort of writing lists, of making connections between words. The moment before I start writing sentences, I take a deep breath.

There's a scared silence in me, a hushed gasp. I get nervous. Scared it will be shit. Scared I won't be able to link up all my thoughts. Scared I just won't be able to write at all.

It's almost as if I have to force myself to put the pen on the page. Pushing through that momentary fear is what makes the poem come alive. The images emerge. And sometimes they really are crap images.

But I think it's like that for most types of art. You take 500 photographs and maybe pull out your top 15. 20. 30. No different writing poetry. You edit those words. Read it aloud. Figure out what sounds right. Ask yourself if it's true.

Living in Myanmar has given me the time and the space (not always privacy though) to write. After years of neglecting writing poetry, I've begun again. And I have my writing group here in Yangon to thank for that!

Anyway, hope you had fun looking at the pictures!


  1. It's fun to see a glimpse into your creative process. I have similar habits when I work on collage. Hot drink...little bits of paper and such EVERYWHERE. The real mess happens when I pull out the paints. It gets a little scary sometimes!

    1. Hi Janice,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I totally relate to the bits of paper everywhere and the mess. I actually think the mess makes it fun. I don't know: it's kind of like a sign that you're totally lost in your art. I love it! I can imagine what it looks like with all those bits of paper everywhere, collaging. FUN!

  2. I agree, I am write-right there with you. I really enjoy your writing. You inspire me to be better. Thanks. June

    1. Ha! Like your play on words, June!

      Thanks for the compliment + for leaving a comment on the blog. :)

      You inspire me, also!

  3. I just write poems by getting everything out and then I revise it a bit because it always sounds kookie. I have never showed anyone what I wrote because I am not a good writer. I did write some songs and those were kookie too. Silly songs. But if I had to write for an audience I would be way more self conscious. I usually draw with my writing as well.
    I like your blog. :)

    1. Hi Juniper Goods -

      Thanks for stopping by + leaving a comment. ;)

      I love how poetry can be a way to just express what you're feeling, to get it all out. The kookier, the better. It doesn't have to make sense. (I doubt mine does!) Why do you say you're not a good writer? What is a good writer anyway? Still, I can understand how poetry can be incredibly personal + not wanting to share. I used to never share mine. And still, it is very difficult for me to do so. It's intimate and I used it, too, as a way to express my feelings. It can feel very vulnerable.

      I love that you draw with your writings, too. That's so cool! You're obviously very creative. I really like your art + your wire jewelery. It's super cool!

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