Dave and I meet every morning at 7:30. Our meetings last anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes. Sometimes we build our story. Sometimes we talk business. Sometimes we simply check in. “You there? Yep. Meeting? Nope. Catch you tomorrow? Bye!”
This is a different schedule than we’ve ever had. And, although I am not a morning person, this seems to be working very well for me.
As the years have passed in this partnership I go through all the processes of writing that David and I have worked with from screen plays to novels. We’ve gone from meeting at my house twice a week to weekly meetings at David’s to a strictly on line meeting (thanks to the pandemic). We’ve had notes posted on walls, written notes in note books, and used every kind of app to organize our thoughts and ideas.
My partner, is a little more analytically about the process of writing than I am. And, thanks to this very blog I am considering what my style of writing and working with words is exactly. I’m not just participating in the act of writing anymore but now I am thinking about it. I’m reflecting on the process and what I’m getting out of it? What’s my style? How hard am I working? Am I stepping up and taking it seriously? How many commas am I supposed to use? Isn’t that an editor’s job.
These are serious questions. Seriously.
Not only do I think about what I have done in terms of all the goals I’ve set but I think about what I have learned. In these years of collaboration with David I have learned a lot from doing long division to estimate how long it will take to write ‘x’ pages to how to have a difficult conversation with my partner about something. In all of that though there are four lessons that I find key. The lesson of commitment, the lesson of gentleness, the lesson of tenacity and the lesson of story are the four biggest lessons I have learned so far from writing.
Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity. I joke about being bad at commitment given my relationship history but it is just a joke. I have found that when there is a goal to be reached with writing, I make sure that I give the time and prioritize it into my life because I have committed to putting words down and telling a story. I know that if I want to take writing seriously I have to be willing to make some promises to myself and to my partner. In collaboration there is accountability. I think my stronghold is my ability to commit to something greater than just myself.
Gentleness is defined as kindness, consideration and amiability. Now, when I can’t manage commitment to writing as thoroughly as I want, or as regularly, or if I take a day off or hit the pause button to refill my creative bank the lesson of gentleness steps in. I make sure to be gentle with myself and know that from that place I can continue on after a rest. Getting frustrated only blocks my flow. There is an ease in compassion where thoughts, creative works, and ideas spring. Kindness unlocks it. Frustration does not.
Tenacity is about hanging on to something with determination. Tenacity is different than commitment because to me it feels like tenacity is where the emotional part of commitment hangs out. It’s the thing that fires up commitment and makes it happen with fervor. For me, tenacity is simply about wanting it bad enough to keep going.
Story is an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. AND this is why I’m here. Story can and might be a blog post all its own in the future. The list of learnings within this fourth lesson is L-O-N-G. I thank Dave for all the knowledge he has shared on the technical side of story. We have talked about pace, character, flow, audience, words, tense, organization, plausibility, even commas. This is only a short list.
Writing has taught me these lessons, made me consider the experience of commitment, gentleness, tenacity and story. Through collaboration, I have stretched these concepts further than I thought I could. I anticipate more lessons in the future.
These lessons I apply to writing also apply to life. Commitment, gentleness, tenacity and story are good lessons for a good life. I short form, stick to something that is important to you. Be gentle with yourself while you do. Keep going when the going gets tough. And finally, there is always a story.
Bring on the life and writing learning.