Zia Hassan

My Writing Process

+++ title = “11” date = 2018 +++

While my writing frequency has ebbed and flowed over the years, I’ve consistently written and published pieces since the early 2000’s. I did this despite my education in grade school writing, not because of my education. In school, we were taught that the writing process was a process of brainstorming (whatever that means), organizing thoughts, writing drafts, and editing the drafts.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that my own process is much different from the one that I have taught.

Here’s how I approach the process of writing:

  1. Mindset is important. Writing is how I think and parse ideas. If you ever read a finished piece of writing from me and it seems like I’ve really thought something through, it’s likely that I did that “thinking through” during the writing/drafting process. It’s happening right now, as I write these words. So, I write to think, which causes growth, therefore I write to grow. One could say I write to learn. This motivation is all that I need to do it every day, just like how someone trying to become stronger would try to lift heavier weights.
  2. The most important part of writing doesn’t happen in front of the computer. It happens by being mindful each day. If I go into the city, I might see something that surprises me, or makes me curious. I have a running list of these noticings on my phone. Sometimes in the form of pictures, sometimes it’s a little bit of text. Sometimes it’s a statement and sometimes it’s a question.
  3. Then, I have a daily habit of sitting down to write. I pull out my list, which generally has about 70-80 workable ideas (I note a lot when I’m out and about), and I write about one of the ideas. I edit as I go, because doing this daily means I don’t have too much time to spend on it.
  4. When I feel like it’s ready to ship, I publish. The next day I do it again. Some posts are read, shared, and liked… some are read by no one. I promote ones that I think are relevant to a good number of people in my network, and sometimes I send a post to a person who I think will connect to the idea I’ve written about that day. I love when my work is enjoyed and read, but I press on even when it’s not. This is key.

Interestingly, there’s only one step in this process that, if left out, causes a slowdown in publishing, and that’s Step #3. That list of ideas will become bloated and eventually useless if I don’t use those ideas in some way. Kind of like eating too much and never expending any energy through a workout. Also, if I don’t publish regularly, I stop noticing interesting things in life. I don’t know if it’s subconscious, as if I have too many ideas I haven’t written about and so my brain shuts out new stimuli, or if it’s just because the daily habit reminds me to look for interesting ideas… but when I stop publishing, the ideas stop coming.

The way to keep getting new ideas consistently is to keep writing consistently. Any writing teacher will tell you this, but it is hard to really believe until you stop writing for a while. Whatever personal process you have is useless if you aren’t writing regularly.

It goes against the traditional ideas of the muse, of inspiration, of lightning striking, of lightbulb moments. But any professional can tell you that those romantic ideas are more like locks than they are keys.