Being a writer isn’t easy. Sometimes those good writing days can feel like a distant memory or even a rarity.
I have found that when I am struggling with my writing looking at the creative process through a different lens helps.
For noting, I’ve also found chocolate, gin & tonics and interpretative dances in my kitchen (when no one is looking) also help, but they are all for another blog post.
Here’s a different way of looking at the writing process. This has kept me going and has made me scurry back to my writing desk on several occasions.
Think Caterpillar & The Butterfly!
I believe writing can be likened to the metamorphosis of a butterfly.
The caterpillar performs the same daily tasks; eating, sleeping and shuffling up and down a leaf.
You, the writer, are the caterpillar. As well as eating, sleeping and shuffling up and down your leaf, you also write, read and tweet.
Something inside the caterpillar tells it to enter a private and transformational stage of its life. This involves locking itself away in a protective shell known as the chrysalis. Within the chrysalis the caterpillar goes through great change and personal growth. It also dissolves into a gooey mess and then rebuilds itself.
Something inside of you, normally a new idea for a story, instructs you to enter a private and transformational stage of your life. This involves locking yourself away in your own chrysalis; limiting social media, setting yourself daily word count targets and thinking about what possessed you to work on such a ridiculous idea for a story. Like the caterpillar you also go through great change. I believe working on every draft of a novel changes you in some way and there’s so much personal growth happening as you are overcoming countless struggles. At the same time you are also dissolving into a gooey / emotional mess over your characters, the plot and the story in your head not resembling what’s coming out onto the page.
There is a period of intense struggle as the creature inside the chrysalis struggles to break free. The caterpillar has been transformed into something truly wonderful – a butterfly.
There is a period of intense struggle for you too; self-doubt, worrying what the world will think of your idea and sleepless nights just thinking about pressing send on the email containing the draft of your story. Finally you also break free and stagger out of your private place. Something wonderful has happened to you too. You have undergone your own transformation; you’ve got the first draft of a novel in your hand. You have created a new world, brought characters to life and encouraged them to step off the page. You have also changed as a writer and learnt something new about yourself.
Writing is a process and I’m afraid, like the caterpillar, we have to go through all the stages.
Wherever you are at with your writing see it as a stage. It won’t last forever and one day you will become the butterfly!
Have a good day shuffling up and down your leaf!