Is reflection a regular part of your writing practice?

Reflection is one of those things, a bit like meditation, that we know is good for us, but chances are we don’t do it (enough).

I know I certainly haven’t. Capital R reflection I’ve done A LOT of (as the bookcase full of journals and notebooks can attest to). In real terms, on a weekly or monthly basis say, as regards my own writing? That is not a record I can be so proud of lately.

I am as infected and conditioned by our society as the next person. We live in a world of spring and summer – plan and execute, plan and execute. Think of a thing, do the thing, think of the next thing, do the next thing.

(Is it any wonder we’re all exhausted?)

Culturally we’re rather poor at autumn and wintering. At stopping, dropping, resting, letting what was fruit and decay. There is always So. Much. To. Be. Doing.

Hell no, people

Thankfully we have autumn as a real thing, happening for most of us in the northern hemisphere outside our windows right now. As seasons go, it is dramatic: Commanding and compelling us to look and stare. It drops a blanket of darkness on us suddenly, earlier than we’re used to. It says quite firmly, hell no people. Enough already. I like its attitude.

Recently, I’ve started a process with a friend and accountability buddy, specifically around our writing. Every Friday we drop one another an email giving answers to 8 questions about our writing week. The few weeks we’ve been running this exercise have already been revelatory. Mulching each week down, turning it over, seeing the worms of last week wrigging away from the light, I find this composting process enormously helpful.

For a start, it transpires I am rubbish at remembering what I’ve done in the past week. What we don’t remember, we can neither appreciate nor learn from. Secondly, taking the time to reflect is doing something new for me: it’s forcing me to listen to myself for long enough to hear what’s most important to me writing-wise (usually from the noisy canvas of a whole garden of writing projects, all clamouring for attention). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, writing it down is key. I am slowed by the process and, as is the intention, absolutely accountable to my own words.

Reflection and Refraction

There’s one other truth I’m discovering too: Reflection is important in and of itself, yes, but what we do with the light that comes back at us is the biggie. That light, if refracted, has the potential to become a rainbow we didn’t even know was hidden within it, just waiting to be loosed on the world.

The final piece to highlight in all of this is, of course, the buddy element. As with all our writing, we become clearer, it becomes that much more urgent, when we know we have an audience waiting to receive it.

Do you take time to reflect on your writing practice? How, when, where and with whom do you do it? I’d love to hear your experience and processes.


What about your writing?

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