How do you write? It’s the question other writers always ask me. Because we’re all hoping someone has come up with an easier better way.
Well, I haven’t.
Step One: Idea
On a good day I have an idea. I write it down in a Word document or a notebook or on the back of a receipt or record it in my voicemail. I don’t filter or edit. There’s no erasing allowed. I just get the idea down. Judgement kills creativity.
Step Two: Wait
Sometimes these ideas don’t make sense. Sometimes they do but I don’t know what to do with them. Are they blog posts? Sermons? Lyrics? So I wait for life experience and God and other ideas to come along and give them their meaning and purpose.
Step Three: Mine
I go back to the pages of ideas and mine them for parts. I search them like I’m sifting through a junkyard in need of a muffler for a specific make and model. Actually, it’s not so much like that because I’m not exactly sure what I’m needing…until I see it. I read the lines and sometimes hear them set to melodies. Or two lines on different pages suddenly seem to fit together.
Step Four: Write
Ideally, I lock the office door and write. Not well. I just write as much as I can as far as I can. It often feels to me like driving without a gas gauge: I’m always a little afraid the idea is going to run out and I’ll be stranded in the middle of a second verse. But I keep writing no matter how badly until I reach the end or run out of gas completely.
Step Five: Rest & Edit
My first draft is rarely any good. With the exception of blog posts, which are just exercises for me, I edit everything I write…again and again and again. But first I let the draft rest. I leave it alone for at least a day before coming back to it with new eyes and my finger hovering over the delete button.
I had a good day yesterday. In a rush of ideas last night I filled an entire page with parts to be cobbled together into something – I don’t know what yet. Here’s what that page looks like. Maybe you’ll see some of this in a blog post or hear it in a song someday.
My heart got too big for me so I let it go
Crumbs of light
Cathedral of blood, bone and muscle
In the blue of your eyes I feel small
I feel like Sunday
The night is a big man sitting beside her quietly, doing what she tells him to
Footsteps of kings
Back straight, head up, walk with me
Planted a piece of himself inside that moves us toward home
Hold down three jobs to hold up his babies
Soldiers of peace
You’ve got nothing to do but everything
Hope squeezes into narrow spaces
Morals like naps – left behind when someone touches us -Anis Mojgani
Smiling like the table is full
Boys running like dinosaurs are back to play
Let’s tell stories by flashlight
Let’s be a mouth full of chocolate
A fist full of quarters
Let’s disturb the peace and put it back together again but better
Heart full of gasoline in a world full of matches
Sea of forgiveness
Let’s get all the life out of living
Stand between death and the dying
Let’s live between death and the dying
Love all the hate into hiding
Till we’re empty of words
And all out of days
I don’t want to want to but I still do