Reflections on a writing practice

computer in front of a stack of books on writing

For the last five years I’ve been writing everyday, and over that period have evolved from a sometime poet and blogger to a full-time professional writer. This blog is a short reflection on my writing practice and the art form I’ve come to love and call my own.

Box of morning pages journals — I’ve been writing morning pages now since completing Julia Cameron’s life changing program in 2015 — ‘The Artist’s Way’. This program has probably had the single biggest impact on my writing practice.

What I’m writing

This is the first time I’ve actually written down what I’m writing down. Let’s go through each item (and also note I am not an academic writer):

  1. Morning Pages – three pages of handwritten notes written ‘stream-of-consciousness’ style first thing in the morning. While I don’t get them done every single morning, it’s usually 4-6 times per week.
  2. Personal Blog – I blog 2-3 times per week (sometimes more) — free content to help anyone wanting a career as a freelance writer, AND volunteer project updates, AND personal stories. I also blog poetry (see item 6 below).
  3. Weekly eZine – each week I send out an eZine for writers and freelancers who read my blog.
  4. Fundraising Mail-outs – two fundraising emails each week for some personal volunteer projects. The emails go to a  subscriber list.
  5. Professional Work – for clients I write business blogs, technical manuals, emails, product descriptions, grant/tender/awards applications, web copy, professional profiles, resumes/CVs/job applications, training materials. It’s business writing and mainly for SMEs and industry professionals.
  6. Poetry – for fun I blog my own version of Haiga Poetry, which is a Japanese short poem with an accompanying drawing. Instead of the drawing I like to take photographs and write haiku or senryu poems to accompany the image.
  7. Evening Review – an exercise in gratitude, personal progress, and achievement. It’s just one page of handwritten notes last thing before bed. Not every night, maybe 3 times per week.

When I have time I also like to write songs, chants, and verses. Then of course there are shopping lists, success lists, unpublished creative writing projects and online courses, emails to family and friends. Writing prompts from writer’s groups. Assignments from the 2-3 writing course I take each year. Oh and let’s not forget the odd Facebook rant.

Evening Review – I regularly write a single page ‘evening review’ which also doubles as a gratitude journal. It’s not every night, but regular enough to keep the little journal on my bedside table under the watchful gaze of the art wall.

What I think about writing

After finishing that list (above) — wow, I really do write a lot. I know it seems strange but I hadn’t really thought about it before. It all just seems like an ordinary part of my day. I do love writing, and (for me) the most enjoyable part is the editing process.

When I review what I’ve written (and as I’m making corrections) I feel almost astonished at the words on the screen or page. It’s not that I’m like some trendy fashion model marvelling at a gorgeous image, but every single time it amazes me that the words came — and I have this piece of finished work to give to my client. Or publish to my blog.

The writing I dread is the stuff where I don’t know much about the subject and have to do a lot of research. I always feel like a bit of an imposter and get frustrated when I’m less than a paragraph in and realise I have to contact the client for more information (or do more background reading).

computer in front of a stack of books on writing
Inspiration shelf – keeping myself inspired with books at my writing desk – so close I can touch them.

What I want to improve

There are two things I want to improve about my writing:

  • First — Productivity. I want to write more consistently, because I absolutely know that I allow myself too many interruptions while working on a project. I know my writing will improve as I exercise more discipline to sit and finish a piece of writing (or section) without breaking my focus.
  • Second — Semantics. My grammar and punctuation need work. Bad grammar wastes a lot of time during editing and rewriting, plus typos that slip through make me look unprofessional and amateurish. I feel I use a lot of long sentences and way too many brackets (which often sound clunky). I want my writing to be fresh and easy to read.

old painting of a fairy pasted into a journal
Reflections on a writing practice

After narrating all that out I’m feeling a bit chuffed about the quantity of writing I’m producing. It’s actually a whole lot more than I realised.  But I still feel my writing practice is choppy. I want steady, consistent output rather than big writing blocks followed by days of distraction.

Overall the vision for my writing practice is to allow myself to write a whole piece without getting up, then following with another piece. Once this raw work is done I can be more efficient with editing. Ultimately it will produce better finished material, and more of it.

This blog was written and submitted as an assignment in the BerkleyX online course Academic and Business Writing which I am completing through The course requires you to journal each week using your preferred medium — blog, handwritten diary, Word document. Naturally I chose the blog.

2 responses to “Reflections on a writing practice”

  1. grumpytyke Avatar

    As a journalist, long ago, I often wrote “a whole piece without getting up”, in fact usually several pieces. It was necessary, there rarely being time to do otherwise. Also, there was rarely time to edit so I was used to editing in my head as I was writing, as I still do most of the time.
    I love doing the research when necessary. That probably comes from starting my life as a research scientist and being insatiably curious.
    At one time I wrote quite a few ‘haiku’ with a photo but rather than one illustrating the other the two were conceived together.

    1. Melinda J. Irvine Avatar

      Thanks for your message. It’s always interesting to hear how other people approach their writing. It takes a lot of discipline for me to do blocks of writing without interruption, but I think this is fuelled by ‘imposter syndrome’. Mel.