On Trusting the Process

Not long ago I picked up on a new feeling in my body during my daily zero-drafting practice. It was a discomfort that I wasn't especially familiar with, not during writing anyway, and I was ultimately able to place it as distrust. I didn't trust my zero drafts.

I've been preaching their utility for years, and so as you might imagine this was a very uncomfortable realization indeed.

I asked myself, What do I mean, exactly, when I feel I don't trust the zero drafts?

It was clear enough: I felt on some level that the rapidity with which I was writing meant that I was neither adequately exploring the topic at hand, nor putting in sufficient effort into the quality of expression itself.

This weekend I had a bit of a download, and those issues came into much clearer focus.

Today I'll speak to my concern about the former, that my exploration of the topic is inadequate.

I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff. That just seems to be how my mind works and it's probably unlikely to change. Earlier today, I was reading a prior zero draft on the subject of not trusting the practice, and in it I concluded, "I can probably safely assume that I'm rarely writing about something that I haven't considered at all."

That's a pretty good point.

I think the point actually extends more deeply than that, too. I preach that the zero draft process will directly show you the clarity of your own thinking.

Sometimes in a zero draft the essence of my thinking will flow from my fingers without difficulty. In that instance, I discover I already know what I think on the subject. The writing is then a body practice to bring that understanding out into the world.

On the other hand, as I have noted many times in this blog, zero-drafting is an excellent technique for when you know you want to say something, but you don't know exactly what it is. So write. Say anything.

And when I later read over writing done in that energy, I always discover that either I did or did not say something interesting. I either did or did not reach a better clarity of thinking. If I said something interesting or useful, well then: success. If not, then I've just learned that there's still more exploration to do.

From that perspective, in either case the experiment has performed admirably, hasn't it?

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