Posts Tagged ‘Know Your Process’

Feb

25

2016

Know Your Process

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Revision, Running, Writing, Writing Style

Yesterday I headed to the gym to run on the treadmill. While I was there, I learned it was an advantage to know your process. I went to the gym, not because I hate running in the rain, I kind of like it actually. But I didn’t think I’d want to run in the rain AND THEN go back out and play ball IN THE RAIN with the dog. Plus, I may have wanted a strawberry smoothie with flax afterwards.

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But, I digress.

As you may have heard me mention in the past, running on the treadmill is not ideal for me. Why?

  1. I get bored.
  2. I spend a large amount of my run trying to convince myself not to get off earlier than I should.
  3. I get a strawberry smoothie with flax afterwards. Yum! But let’s be honest, it’s not a lunch replacement.

Know your process. Running outside combats these three treadmill challenges rather nicely.

  1. Lots to see–nature and wildlife–never bored.
  2. If I run out as far as I can, I still have to come back. No one is going to give me a lift back home. I’ll get there quicker if I just run it out.
  3. After running, I’m way too lazy to make a smoothie. And the dog isn’t going to wait for more than a shower and pouring a cup of coffee to go out and play ball.

So, in general I’m aware of what works for me–I know my process. But sometimes, even when I know what’s good for me, I end up on the treadmill, despite my best intentions. As I listened to music I could barely hear in my broken headphones (asking for new ones for my birthday) while watching the really bizarre closed captioning that used to be so much better when humans did things, I realized that it helped to know my ┬áprocess in a different way. Or maybe the best way to phrase it is I needed to create a process for the situation I couldn’t avoid.

As I pushed myself through my treadmill run, I pictured my favorite outdoor run route–the one that I do so often I no longer need to hear a voice in my ears telling what mile I’m at. Envisioning this was helpful to me. Instead of selling myself on the benefits of getting off the treadmill, I over layed my outdoor run process, on top of the treadmill run I was struggling with. I knew When I hit the one mile mark I knew I’d only gotten to the top of the very first hill and quite honestly, I’ve never in my life run that route and turned around at that point. Or the two mile mark for that matter. Why would I do it now? There was no reason to stop running.

I made it to 6.3 miles by knowing my successful outdoor process and using it to inform my treadmill process. Hey–whatever gets it done, right?

Additionally, part of my process when I’m running outside is to think. I realized I could still do that if I stopped some of the noise pollution around me, like the Live with Kelly and Michael Show subtitles which looked something like this…

Kelly: That tat two back is Adam Levine.

Michael: 6 mthdsa….hurt…xdhxdnl

Kelly: Never had–

Michael: Pain…

Kelly: Yeah, Buddy–childbirth! yahdl.,,sxsss

You get the picture. Or maybe you don’t. Instead of trying to follow the Adam Levine, tattoo, childbirth indecipherable subtitled conversation, I started planning this blog post. And the more I thought about my running process, the more I also thought about my writing process. How could I carry over the idea of…know your process…from one activity to another.

Here’s the facts. I’ve heard hundreds of authors, more experienced than me, talk about how every book is hard in it’s own way. I believe that.

Businessman overwhelmed by paper

We all struggle at some point–or at many points in the journey.

But I also think that if you know your process–your writing process–you have a template you can use to help get you through any manuscript. It’s all about being aware of your mile markers. Do you struggle with getting started? Do middles make you mad? Is the wrap-up your biggest hurdle? Is character development killing you? Or maybe the plot fairy never shows up to your house. Knowing what obstacles make you want to get off the writing treadmill isn’t a quick fix for your speed bumps, you’ll have to put in the work in the area that challenges you, but it is still helpful. The more you know about where you get stuck, why you get stuck and how you got unstuck in the past–the more likely you are to keep pushing through the miles of drafting and revision you have ahead of you–no matter how much they make you feel like a turkey on a treadmill…

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Do you know your process? How does it help you through the tough spots? Is your process always evolving? How does it change with each manuscript you write? Any runners in the house? Treadmill or open road? And by the way, who likes strawberry smoothies????

 

 

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