Thursday, June 26, 2014

How It All Goes Down In My Head (A Blog Hop About The Writing Process)

I've been invited to participate in a 'blog hop' by my dear friend and fellow blogger Kate from One Small Life - how cool is that? A blog hop is a bit like the old fashioned chain letter but without the annoying need for stamps or for your mum to ring someone else's Mum and let them know you're not allowed to participate because you have too much homework.

Kate has asked me to write a post about my own writing process. You should read hers here; it's an excellent piece, as are all her posts over at One Small Life. She has set the bar very high on the subject of personal writing, nonetheless, here's my take on our shared passion.
A Little Bit Of Background (Stay With Me...)

Back in high school, although I didn't realise it at the time, creative writing was my thing. My English teacher in my final year was this amazing Indian woman who was a single Mum supporting her own Mum and a young son, living in country Victoria where I went to school. Mrs. Fernandez was a bold and assertive woman who had the brightest, whitest smile and who wore spectacular, Bollywood-esque full length saris every day - rain, hail or shine.  As a teacher, she saw potential in me and she pushed me to my literary limits at every turn. She marked me harshly through every pre-test knowing I wasn't truly stretching myself and sometimes I hated her for it. I just couldn't believe I could work THAT hard and still be a C student! Looking back now though, I'm grateful for her staunch, strict belief in me because although my final year marks weren't brilliant overall, somehow I managed to end up in the top 5% of the state in English, achieving an A+ for my final exam. She wasn't at all shocked but I most certainly was. So I guess writing has always been one of my strengths and perhaps it's only in recent years that I've felt comfortable acknowledging it.

Just don't ask me to write about calculus, osmosis, or inertia. THOSE teachers gave up the fight VERY early on!

Why Do I Write What I Do? (I Often Ask Myself The Same Question..) 

Several years ago, I started The Mother Load as a form of self-therapy. I've never been any good at sharing my feelings and my own private corner of the internet gave me a chance to download thoughts, feelings and ... well, just random stuff. It organised me; it made me realise the things that were scrambled in my head were suddenly quite clear in print. When I finally decided to share these random thoughts, it felt like how I imagine it feels to stand up at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for the first time; experiencing fear, vulnerability and relief all at once. Lucky me - I have many supportive friends and colleagues who enthusiastically asked for more, providing me with a little bit more confidence after every post. Then the strangers and fellow bloggers started stopping by which is just as great because they don't HAVE to like you (!) and if they stick around, well then you've clearly resonated with them on some level.

To this day and sixty-five posts later, I still feel vulnerable, a little embarrassed and yet at the same time quite exhilarated when I hit that share button on something I've written. Despite these mixed emotions I love writing and the joy of receiving a great reaction from a reader is truly a gift. Sylvia Plath said it best, “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
How Does My Writing Differ From Others In My Genre? 

For anyone who knows me and The Mother Load blog, they'll already know that I'm not a fan the term 'Mummy Blogger'. While a lot of my content DOES centre around my life as mum, I prefer to think of myself as a 'personal' blogger because although being a mum is now a big part of my fabric, it doesn't necessarily define me as a person and I like to think that I have relevant views, thoughts and opinions about life outside of that very specific genre. Although there are thousands of us 'personal' bloggers out there following a similar formula, no one is having my specific experiences and no one is interpreting these experiences in the same way as me. That's all there is to it - it's a pretty simple difference. Some people like romance novels but they don't just read one, they read and enjoy many from the same genre because despite their similarities, they are all clearly differing tales. Same goes for blogging, I guess; we all have our own unique voice.  So when it comes to my own writing style, I like to ensure I'm an easy, chatty read just as if the reader and I were talking over a pot of tea and a scone.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Truthfully, I don't really have a writing 'process' as such. I simply write when I feel the need to say something. (That's kinda how therapy works, isn't it?) For me, it's pretty much an "Oh my Gawd, I HAVE TO get this off my chest" kinda thing and when this happens, the words almost write themselves. It's rare that I can produce something really meaningful if I simply pull up to the computer and instruct myself to write; I generally need an idea to form and sweep me off my feet before I can be sure it's worthy of a beginning, middle and an end. Some of my better pieces have come from the sudden desire to open up about a detail in my life and in doing so, I make a definite choice to step out onto a ledge and expose myself a little.  I believe that's what a loyal, trusting audience deserves.

With regard to the process, usually finding the perfect image to accompany a piece is just as important to me as the words themselves. When I have the subject and the passion to start, I let the words flow and then somewhere in the early stages I have to stop and search for the perfect accompanying image. Finding that image early on seems to give me further creative momentum and it often acts as a visual guide, reminding me to stay on track. For me, finding the image can sometimes take longer than writing the piece itself. The image not only draws people in and engages them but it also visually represents the entire crux of the subject matter. To me, the image is crucial to the creative writing process.

So that's how it all goes down in my head. From my perspective, there's no perfect methodology to writing; it's such a personal thing and the process can't be forced, otherwise it reads that way. Everyone should try writing though. It's great and whether you think you're good at it or not, it's really enjoyable to read back a bunch of words that you've constructed from your own thoughts. To anyone who's interested in giving it a go I would say just use your own voice. Find something that you've always wanted to say but have never had the opportunity. It's pretty much how I started and like me, you might be surprised at what kind of creative journey unfolds before you.

In the spirit of keeping the blog hop alive, I'd like to introduce you to a couple of my favourite bloggers who will share their wisdom on this same topic. These two writers are great at what they do and I know there will be something to gain from their interpretation of the writing process. Enjoy! 

Justin from 40yroldDad

I'm a Melbourne-based actor, comedian, screenwriter and graphic designer. After invading Poland and single-handedly putting on one glove, I tried my hand at mediocrity, but was refused entry because I wasn't dressed appropriately. For a short while I worked as a valet for NASA, parking cars on the moon. The potential for earning was huge but business was kind of slow, having peaked around 1969. I married the love of my life in the Elvis Presley Wedding Chapel in Vegas and after 9 failed attempts at IVF, a few miscarriages and a visit to a witch doctor, we gave up trying to have kids and decided to have holidays every year instead. We moved to Bali for 5 months and amazingly fell pregnant naturally. We now have an amazing 2 year old son and expecting a little girl in Nov. Which proves one thing: When all else fails...GIVE UP! My blog chronicles my comedic first-time dad adventures at the ripe old 'middle-age' of 40. 

Erin from The Mums Group

Hi, I'm Erin and I'm the creator of The Mums Group. My background is in journalism and my pre-baby life saw me reading the news for the Hamish and Andy show, nationally on the Austereo network. Fast forward to now and my life revolves around my threenager Gus and toddler Eddie (and I'm pregnant with my third...eekkk)! As a new mum I found so much support from my own mother's group, but along the way I have learnt not everyone has the same experience. That wasn't fair in my eyes, so I thought, what better way to support all of the mums out there, than to create our very own online "mum's group"! That's exactly what the site is designed for. A place to come and get support, advice, have a laugh and maybe even make a new friend. Motherhood is a joyous job, but can also be incredibly lonely, so I hope The Mum's Group becomes your new BFF. Enjoy, share, and be kind, we are all going through this together, and judgement is one extra thing we don't need to worry about.



  1. Great post, Mother. I too remember Mrs Fernadez fondly. Both she and Mrs Ritchie believed in me and even though I had a love-hate relationship with the latter, I respected her a lot. But how wrong they were about me! Hahaha... :)

    On the subject of writing, I still come across a couple of things I wrote back in highschool (and even something in primary school) and I can't believe how good they were (in relation to the crap writer I am these days). Maybe there was something for Mrs F and R to see in me. Alas, now I just rant on the internet... ;)

    Oh, and I'm happy to see you state that this isn't just a mummies blog. I like to comment on anything (hello!), but I always felt reticent here as I didn't want to intrude on secret mums business. ;) I might comment more often from now on (sorry!)...

  2. I love these posts finding out the reasons why others write. I'm a bit of a therapy writer too. Just wish I could publish most of them because they are indeed my best work.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this, finding out HEAPS more about you... I'm also not a lover of the term mummy blogger! :)