Blog hop: My writing process

I began working with Leigh Shulman in my early days at Matador Network, and now she’s my mentor and personal writing coach. Her advice and feedback has been really valuable for me over the years, and I just LOVE talking about the writing process with her. (Plus her and blogging superstar Jeannie Mark are about to launch their own writing retreat, so keep following The Future is Red for more details.)

She asked me to participate in this writing blog hop with four questions focusing on writing. And since I love talking about myself more than anything else in the world, here we go!

1) What am I working on/writing?

I’ve started applying to universities for my MFA in Creative Writing, but unfortunately there aren’t many low residency schools out there that don’t charge about a million bucks per semester for tuition.

I’ve taken a bit of a break from travel writing this month. The last few months I had been writing some content that has kinda sucked the joy out of writing for me. C’est la vie.

BUT I’ve started writing fiction again, which is where my passion began. In fact, I almost exclusively read fiction these days. I’m working on a book (god that sounds lame, doesn’t it?) and I’m really happy with how it’s going. I didn’t think I COULD write fiction again until I just started doing it.

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

I often discuss the lack of “honesty” in writing these days and I feel it’s what gives me bit of an edge above some of the competition. I didn’t always start out that way, either. When I started writing on my lifestyle blog (That’s Tangly), I was brutally honest because I didn’t have much of a readership. I started holding back a bit when I launched Candice Does the World. I went back to That’s Tangly recently and felt a little surprised about how RAW the content was back then. I didn’t care that people knew about me drinking and doing stupid things as a 20-something. It took its toll after awhile and I started censoring much of my CDTW content.

Fuck that. You’ll never connect with anyone by being dishonest or censored. I went through a hard spell last year after a short affair with a guy I cared about deeply, and the blog posts I wrote about the experience garnered some overwhelming responses. It reminded me that we’re all human, and we all need something to hold onto, and people to connect with. And man, it’s good to know I’m not alone.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I started writing about Newfoundland and Labrador because I realized the lack of travel writing love in the blog scene. My life as a travel writer kinda escalated from there.

But I also write tons of marketing copy, web copy, and technical content. I started out writing sonar manuals, after all.

On the OTHER hand: fiction was my first love, and always will be. I feel like I’ve strayed so far from that original passion, and I’m working to get back there. Sometimes I feel like it’s the only kind of literature that still gets appreciated these days.

4) How does my writing process work?

A few shots of tequila, a few lines of cocaine, and lots of silence.

Just kidding.

But now that I’ve started thinking about this question, I’m afraid I don’t really have a writing process. I kinda just sit here and let it flow. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll have vivid images that come to mind and I’ll write them down. From last night: “My flaws piling up like firewood ready to ignite.” I’m not even sure what this means.

Basically, I need to be passionate about what I’m writing. I need to love it. I need to be inspired. Often it’s from the heart and I try my best to keep it that way. But it isn’t always easy.

What happens next on the blog hop?

I’m passing the torch along to three other writers I know who are talented and wonderful. I’ve connected with these people a lot in the past and I’m always so thrilled by their support and passion as writers.

Natalie TaylorNatalie and I hit up Prague two summers ago. Ask her about David Cerny.

Tammy BurnsTammy is one of those folks who works HARD as a writer and is constantly creating great content.

Pamela McNaughtan – Pam’s writing career seems to have taken off lately, and it’s well deserved. She’s living it up in Quebec City now, which is one of my favourite places.

Should you choose to accept this mission, your post will go live next Monday. Write on!

  • April 21 2014
    Leigh Shulman

    Ooh, I’m first to comment.

    You make an excellent point. Most people don’t realize what they can do writing wise until they just sit down and do it. I suppose that applies to many things, actually. I’m glad you’re writing fiction and even happier that I have a chance to work with you while you do it.

    I said this before both to you and in other places: I do think a writing degree has its place, but it is not the only way to write.

    Thanks for picking up the baton in this blog hop! Looking forward to see what the others say.

    • April 22 2014

      This has been the biggest battle for me, the realization that what I think about my writing in advance of doing it (crippling insecurity; lazy overconfidence) is always, always wrong. And it seems like everyone encounters this. Steven Pressfield’s Resistance at work, perhaps. But every single time, it’s so easy to fall for. Writers are perpetual suckers for their own propaganda, for the back-seat driver in our brains – and the only way to deal with it seems to be, say to yourself “my feelings can’t be trusted” and just plough into it to find out what really happens.

      The only decider is what happens when you’ve done your best. Everything else is smoke in the wind.

      • April 29 2014

        Totally. Just. Keep. Doing. It. No matter what.

      • April 29 2014
        Leigh Shulman

        We’re so accustomed to having a clear road map, and writing is anything but clear. Sure, you can set out to write a specific form of article or even short story, but most of the time, it’s about creating what’s not yet there.

        Which is indeed daunting. Thus… refer back to the many little tricks I keep up my sleeve that get me seated in front of the computer and moving toward the unknown.

    • April 29 2014

      My favourite advice from you so far was about even just taking TEN minutes per day and writing. I was so amazed by how much I could write in 10 minutes, and since it wasn’t such an off-putting amount of time, i was so eager to do it. Found myself carrying on LONG after 10, actually. Which reminds me, I wanna chat soon. My Internet has been absolute shit.

      • April 29 2014
        Leigh Shulman

        Whenever I suggest the ten minutes, I usually don’t tell people that most likely, they’ll end up writing a lot more even though that is very often the case.

        I’m sure there are people out there who are disciplined and can sit themselves down with 3-5 hours/day writing goals. I’m not one of them. For me, it’s a lot of smaller steps each of which is designed to trick myself into writing and then writing more than I expected.

        :)

        Yep, let me know whenever it works for us to chat again. We’ll figure it out.

  • April 21 2014
    contented traveller

    I am caught between a rock and a hard place as a newcomer. Play the game or say what I think. I am mixing it up now, because at the end of the day I want to do well but i need to say what i think, because I might just have a reasonable viewpoint. I think one of my most popular posts was when I shared more about ‘me’

    • April 29 2014

      Totally! I think it’s possible to be honest without being…disrespectful? Does that make sense? It’s so hard not to worry what others thing, but it means the world.

  • April 21 2014

    Sweet idea for a blog series! The Guardian has a great article on the daily routines of history’s most creative minds: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/05/daily-rituals-creative-minds-mason-currey. I don’t fancy having been Freud’s wife. To save his precious time, she was the one to put toothpaste on his toothbrush each morning. Sack that!

  • April 22 2014

    Hello, fellow writing-blog-hopper. :)

    Curious: “My flaws piling up like firewood ready to ignite.” I just used a verrry similar metaphor on my own post. Our minds think alike.

    You have acres of talent. I want to watch it catch alight and roar up in a pillar of flame that the whole damn world can see. So, go do that. We’ll wait.

    • April 29 2014

      MOAR FIRE ANALOGIES! Thanks, Mike. That means a lot, coming from you.

  • April 22 2014
    harveylisam

    I was thinking about censorship and all that stuff today, when I was discussing the concept of happiness with some friends. I feel like people only want to post the good things about their lives, and I totally agree – we lose that raw, honest content. It’s really sad, because I think if we were more honest with ourselves and the world, we could dive really deep into … I don’t know… each other? That sentence probably makes no sense, but I just wanted to say that I agree, and I’m going to try to be more honest in my writing.

    • April 29 2014

      Absolutely, but it’s SO hard to do, especially online. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like lately the Internet has become crueller and crueller. Comment sections are unbearable to read. It makes sense we’re so hesitant to bare our souls.

  • May 04 2014
    creativenomad

    totally agree. The honesty in your writing creates humour and for this reason your blog is very entertaining :)

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