November 2017 / QSL / Walter Hill

The Stations of the Writing Process

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Pilate condemns Jesus to die

Have you heard of the Muse? The Muse sprinkles the fairy dust of literature over your writer brain. An idea is birthed from said writer brain Zeus-style. When that idea sits in your head, it is always, without fail, the greatest idea you have ever conceived. It is your favorite baby. Until you sit down to write it, of course.

Jesus accepts his cross

The moment your fingers grace the keyboard everything changes. Your untouchable idea has been sentenced to slave away in the trenches of the page. Now the idea must use WORDS (cue screams and horror pianos). It’s hard work, but ideas were made for words. I think. It’s a chicken and egg type of scenario so it’s hard to know, really.

Jesus falls for the first time

PLOT TWIST. Writer’s block rears its ugly head and blank stare. Your hands freeze and your flawless idea sputters like an aging station wagon. It’s a good thing writer’s block is temporary. The bad news is that writers block always comes back around.  

Jesus meets his mother, Mary

Writer’s block cannot make you forget your name so you write it. It’s something to put down at least. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I’m willing to bet those Italians had the name before they had the empire or the aqueducts.

Simon helps carry the cross

Research is always a good place to start a piece. Ideas only get you so far, and that chapter or post could use some more distance. Wikipedia, dictionary.com, a fortune cookie. Inspiration can come from anywhere and at this point you’re going to need all the help you can get.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Sometimes salvation comes in the form of a steaming cup of joe (read Joe Biden), and a Pop Tart or two might help open up the ole brain canals. It’s been a rough and tumble journey writing your piece of world-beating literature, but hey even professional sports players need a break for water and orange slices.

Jesus falls for the second time

PLOT TWIST AGAIN. Like a game of whack a mole, writer’s block has poked its dirty self from out of the ground again. Your creative brain is clogged once again, and it seems your journey has hit another stumbling block, one that you promptly struck and keeled over from. It would seem now that food wasn’t the solution you were looking for.  

Jesus meets the three women of Jerusalem

You find a crack in the impenetrable wall that is writer’s block and you start hammering away. The ideas are flowing now, and like water they hit the page as your fingers tap the keyboard. And on the other side of that wall stands the three gorgeous tentpoles of writing realm. You’ve discovered the beginning, middle, and end to your literary masterpiece. The spaces in between are a little drafty sure but now you can fill in the gaps and call it a day.

Jesus falls for the third time

Now it’s just getting embarrassing. But that’s fine, no one will ever know that you’ve been struck by writer’s block three times in the same hour. The reader will only know that you’ve written the best darn piece they’ve ever had the pleasure to skim through. The finish line is in sight at this point so at the very least you should be able to crawl your way there. Just. A few. More. Words.

Jesus is stripped of his clothes

You’re in the zone now. The pocket. The groove. Back on your feet, the words come crescendoing out onto the page. You can feel the final paragraph on the horizon. Legend has it that if writers look closely at the horizon, they can see the triumphant and powerful final lines of each and every piece they’ve written, complete with meaning and emotion for the reader to take with them.

Jesus is nailed to the cross

The final punctuation has been staked onto the page. In a exhale of relief and excitement and sleep deprivation you say goodbye to your Zeus-like brain baby. It’s time for it to leave the nest. And just like that the words and ideas that were once in your head are gone. They exist on the page sure but they aren’t yours anymore. They belong to the Muse now. And the readers.

Jesus dies on the cross

Just because your new writing is hot off the keyboard presses doesn’t mean that the work is done. You’ve got to tame this new collection of words into its final, power level of 10,000 form. To do that requires you to perform an editing autopsy as every good word doctor should. There’s always something worth deleting and or rewriting when you read way too deeply between your own lines.

Jesus is taken down from the cross

You have finished writing your piece and editing it. You’ve spent equal time loving and loathing it. Each line has been broken and bloodied and put back together. Now you get to put it and your carpal tunnel wrists out of their misery.

Jesus is placed in the tomb

This is the part where all lovely writing pieces go to die. And then said piece becomes the most famous written work in human history. Or it never sees the light of day ever again. There is no in between.

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