This is a wee sideline to my writing career that developed a few years ago when friends asked me to get ordained so that I could officiate at their wedding. One thing led to another–I think they call it word of mouth–and since then I think I've done five or six weddings. It is pretty fun, I must say, and I also always feel extremely honored when I am asked.
Most of the time, the bride and groom write their own ceremony, with a bit of guidance from me. Usually, things are short and sweet. After all, people don't ask someone like me to officiate if they are traditional types who would want, say, a Catholic mass for their wedding. But this particular time the bride and groom asked me to say a few words of wisdom.
After I got done laughing (me? words of wisdom to a bride and groom?) I started in. It was a writing project, and I approached it as such. But I learned something really important this time through. Here it is:
I'm nervous until I am fully prepared.
When I'm fully prepared, I am no longer nervous. When I've been through the process enough times to be confident in my work, the nerves disappear. I was making last-minute changes on my remarks on Sunday morning, because I woke up nervous. And I realized this meant I was not yet satisfied with what I'd written.
And this is why I'm a believer in process. I like to give myself plenty of time to work on projects, because I need noodling and thinking time in between. (Noodling is distinct from thinking in that it often involves doing other things, such as enjoying a class of wine with friends or family, which does not, to the untrained eye, look like writing.) My process looks something like this:
1. Realize the deadline is a couple weeks away and decide I better do something about it. Make notes.
2. Think about it. Often I think deep thoughts while driving. I love driving.
3. Write more notes, or add to the ones I have already taken.
4. Noodle. See above. This is often the most overtly entertaining part of the process.
5. Do the actual writing of the first draft.
9. Feel pleased with results.
10. Wake up in a panic and realize that everything I've written is crap.
11. Return to the work and rewrite until the panic subsides.
So there you have it, my writing process in a nutshell. Is yours similar?