A Burden Lessened

by Paige Graffunder about a year ago in workflow

How I Am Retraining My Writing Not To Kill Me

A Burden Lessened
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I have written a few times here about my writing process, and how destructive it can be. Also about how writing my former favorite subject matter (political satire) was becoming too much of a burden to continue to write. (If you are interested in reading those pieces you can find them here, and here.) But, I have started a new creative venture recently, and now four weeks into it and I feel good enough to finally write here about it.

I use different mediums for different types of writing. Here, Vocal, is kind of my catchall. I put my articles here, my poetry, my rambling thought processes, but it's also the only medium I am currently actively making money on. I don't write here like I write other places. I keep a hand written journal still, and I have been writing a new novel in an episodic fashion which I will get into in a moment. Here, on Vocal, I write everything else. Things that are deeply personal but that I am comfortable sharing with my friends. Things that I feel like need to be shared. Things that I feel like need to be put out into the universe, come what may. I appreciate each and everyone of you who read my work. It really means a lot to me that anyone bothers to click at all.

So about my new little novel and the process I have been using to try to break my very toxic patterns when it comes to my own creativity. I have had this novel rolling around in my brain for the last three years, but every time I try to so much as think about writing it, I shy away. Mostly because my writing process is so destructive, I just couldn't put my body through it. It was maddening to have this world full of people rattling around inside me and be completely unable to do anything to rescue them, to meet them, to introduce them to this world.

Then recently, a friend of mine who is also a writer, and also struggles with a creative process that can be rather destructive, was talking about their most recent novel. Someone in the comments section of the post asked if they were on Wattpad. I had never heard of Wattpad before, so I looked into it. I loved what I saw! I could use this platform to completely flip the script on how I write! So I started planning.

I created a profile, and started writing, not a lot, just a little. I got a very short chapter written, and before I could continue I made myself stop. I looked a the chapter, and did a cursory edit, for grammar, and spelling, and then I hit publish and closed the page. The part that destroys me is never the actual writing, it's the editing. I rip myself to shreds with no mercy, and I just can't do that anymore. I don't have the constitution for it like I did when I was young, and it was only my flesh I was ripping through. Now the layers of scar tissue are so thick that what once took a knife now takes a proverbial saw. So after that first chapter, I reached out and asked a few trusted friends, to help me. I set up a google drive folder, and made it editable to those who agreed, and sent out things on my social media. I would put out a chapter every Tuesday. I would write on my lunch breaks from work, or at home when I felt like I had the capacity to do so. Aside from having a least one chapter to publish a week I didn't set any other deadlines for myself.

I asked my crowdsourced editors to not edit really beyond grammar and spelling, and continuity, like if I made a mistake about eye color or something, and just kind of let myself write. I am now four chapters, and thus four weeks in, and it has felt so amazing. I love the story that is unfolding, and I love the world, and my characters, and I feel good about it. I am not killing myself with editing, and I am not forcing wild deadlines on myself, I am just letting the story build in it's own way, and having a great time doing it. Sometimes I finish a chapter in a day, and sometimes it takes me a week to do it, and that is ok. Having my editing crowdsourced, and not doing it myself has been an amazingly freeing experience, and I really am enjoying this process.

I have never been the kind of author who knows every detail of my stories before I write them. I let the characters build themselves inside of me until they are big enough large enough to beat their fists against my brain and demand to be let out. When they do get out, they whisper their lives into my ear, their pain, their loves, their betrayals, and their exaltation. I am merely the transcriptionist, and I have to tell you that this set in particular has been my favorite to discover. I am forever surprised, and delighted, and sorrowful. I really hope that anyone who chooses to read it will love it as much as I have loved writing it.

If you want to read the book or follow around you can do so here.

Thank you to all my readers who have stuck it out with me this far, and I really appreciate all the feedback I have gotten for this story so far. And an extra special thank you to my editors Tai, Diana, and Taryn, for being so amazing!

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Paige Graffunder
Paige Graffunder
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Paige Graffunder

Paige is an administrative and HR professional in Seattle, as well as a contributor to several local publications around the city, focused on interpersonal interactions, poetry, and social commentary.

See all posts by Paige Graffunder