patreon post 1 -- on my writing process
January 10, 2015
So the first topic requested for my weekly Patreon post (as in the posts I’ll write on topics suggested by my patrons since I met my first funding goal) was about my writing process and my thoughts on writing as a creative activity (or aspect of creativity).
Which is kind of an interesting/difficult question for me for various reasons.
First. My writing process depends on what I’m writing (to an extent). One thing that is indendent of the form of writing is that I need to be inspired. Or that I need inspiration (this, I suppose also begins to answer the notion of creativity). One of the things that I do is read a fair bit of stuff online. Stuff I read from tumblr, twitter, RSS news feeds, and whatever else. Pretty much all of my various incidental blog posts, tumblr posts, and twitter updates are usually inspired by reactions I have to things that I read. This also holds somewhat true for my books and stuff. You’ll note that decolonizing trans/gender 101 refers constantly back to Teich’s book. This is also true for the critical commentary on whipping girl.
For whatever reason, I seem to work best in reaction to stuff.
That said… I react to a lot of stuff I don’t write about. So the next step is deciding whether or not a certain thing is worth writing about. Medium has an impact here since it is easy to fire off a few tweets about something (or a short tumblr post) but I usually try ot post more substantive posts here (on my main blog). A substantive post for me is anything more than about 500 words.
The first thing I try and decide about is whether or not I’ve already written about a topic. Sadly, the longer you spend involved in various discourses the more you see just how slowly some of the ideas can change. How entrenched certain conceptions are. And so if you have a four year old blog with over 700 (substantive) posts (like this one), it becomes pretty easy to repeat yourself over and over again. And I fucking hate repeating myself. So, often, if I’ve written on a topic before and my ideas haven’t substantively changed since the last time I wrote about it, I usually don’t bother to write another post.
However, this really depends on how irritated (or passionate) I am about a certain thing. Like, yesterday (for example) I wrote another post about how the irish were always white, despite already writing a post on this about a year ago. On a topic like this, it is hard for me to pass it by without comment because these sorts of ideas are really harmful but they also tend to be circulated widely. And it is also ideas like this that are actually impositions from white people into critical race. Some white guy writes a book full of lies about how irish people became white, this enters general racial theory and leads people to actually think it is possible to become white when this isn’t actually true.
Often what ends up happening, though, because I tend to be at my most creative in the mornings, is that I’ll be reading and drinking coffee. And then I’ll get up and take a shower. While in the shower, usually certain ideas/reactions I had to something I read won’t leave me alone and so I’ll sit down, after I’m done, to write about it.
Second. How I see writing as creativity…. or an aspect of creativity.
Like. Speaking very generally, yes, writing is a creative activity. It doesn’t quite feel that way to me? Writing has always been difficult for me and not my best communication skill (which, imo, is oration). Writing certainly got much MUCH easier for me in school once computers were more common and I had regular access to one since writing shit out by hand was one of the reasons why my english marks in school always trailed everything else (until I got a computer to use at home – in high school btw).
It always feels like, for me, that writing as creative activity is something OTHER people do, not me. Rather, writing feels like this thing I have to do in order to communicate my thoughts. A necessary evil. And not something I’m particularly talented at, even as my skills have increased by the sheer fact of how much practice I have at this point and how much writing I do on a regular basis (I think I write like, 4000+ words a week spread out amongst my various blogs, twitter, tumblr, books, etc).
So, um, it looks like my short answer for this is that writing, for me, really isn’t a creative activity. Part of this can be grounded in my (perhaps irrational) belief that I’m not a creative person… And in a lot of ways, looking at my writing process described above, I don’t think I’m very creative. I mean, so much of what I write is – as noted – based on reactions to stuff, rather than just me sitting around and thinking about things.