My father always pleads with me to show him my writing. Whether it’s a short poem I was describing to him, or a story that I submitted for publication. He’s always been my number one supporter, and after I—reluctantly—shared two poems with him, he looked at me, stunned, and asked, “How do you come up with this stuff?”
I sat there, stumped on such a simple, clean question. One that has been answered so easily by countless other writers, one that has been immediately answered without any thought put into it. But I just stared at him and his perplexing gaze, racking my brain for one single explanation I could possibly give him.
And I couldn’t think of anything.
I’m constantly thinking of complex literary devices to include in my witty collections of poems. I come up with plenty of mind-numbingly confusing plots for stories—yet I couldn’t explain to my father how I’m able to come up with these things.
I also didn’t care to explain to my father—the one who is constantly worried about his daughter being hurt in a world that is so anti-female and filled with misogyny—why I write about sexual assault, domestic abuse, and deep depression so often, if I’ve never experienced any of those things.
So I started thinking—really thinking—about how I write. I looked back on every time I ever wrote something meaningful and thought about if I went through any specific steps.
Do I even have a writing process?
And I landed on the answer: no, I don’t.
If someone labeled how I write as a “process,” I guess I could tell them this: I’ll be scrolling on social media, see a pretty picture that inspires me, then I’ll think of one simple poetic sentence to describe what I see. I use descriptions to contain the bulk of my writing, make it flow with words that sound dreamy when paired together. Like “sultry summer” or “the clammy crevices of my palms.”
I don’t even remember the first time I realized that writing is what I want to pursue as a career—writing was always my plan since I wrote my first fun short story in 3rd grade, making my story into a DIY book. I decorated the cover with pink mustaches and my own 3rd grade signature. Even then, I knew how to string together certain words in the English language, to mimic it to my liking, and to make each solitary word fit together, to tell a story that would impact people’s lives.
I’ve always liked to read and write, because whenever we read in school and we analyze each chapter in the book, or each stanza within the poem that we’re studying, everyone’s own belief of the theme is completely up to interpretation. There is no one set, correct answer to works of literature. There’s no formula.
And if people try to convince you there is, they’re wrong.
That’s the beauty of written language, it can say a million things with sweet, short sentences. And sometimes it can say things without ever fully uncovering the deep truth behind it.
Nonetheless, I’ll still go through every area of my brain to figure out the “why” behind my passion. To figure out what drives me, how I’m able to write like I do. Because every time I think I’ve figured out what drives me, or inspires me, I see something else that alters the way I think. Something that switches whatever neural pathways that links my personality to my writing abilities, creating a new-found creative process that whirs in my brain a mile a minute.
The conversation between my dad and me ended with him being able to tell how distraught I was over this incredibly straightforward question. But he continued speaking, with an incredibly reassuring tone, and said, “Some things are better left in the unknown, Jovi.”
And I think I like that explanation the best.
Because constantly scrounging up the inspiration behind each significant piece of work I write would only make my work suffer. It would get me thinking about the logistical side of things, straying me away from the words that invoke the bulk of my writing. Straying me away from the importance of my work.
So don’t get caught up in the reasoning behind your work. Because sometimes I’ll just write because the words flow out of me; most of the time I have no idea what I’m writing about until I read it over a few times and dissect it myself.
The words just flow out for me, but if they don’t for you, that’s okay. Everyone’s individual writing style is unique to their own persona. So don’t try to mimic how other people write. Embrace uniqueness. Embrace the quirks in your own individuality.
Write from the core of your own being, because that’s all that you can really do in this literary scene.