Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hop And Skip!

The lovely Lauren of Crumbbums invited me to be a part of this blog hop on writing habits. I don't usually do challenges like these, but I adore Lauren and her writing and the honesty one encounters on her blog. Not only is Lauren a mother of three wild and free boys, she is a gardener, homemaker and a very stylish heart-breaker, a reader of books and an endless source of inspiration for me. Her big heart and sincerity win me over every time, whether it's about her clothes, or her parenting style.

Her invite came at a very good time for me, as the topic of writing and creativity is really close to my heart this fall, as I prepare to take on more writing duties and make more time for writing in my life.

What Am I Working On

What am I not working on?  Currently, I'm writing a series of articles on small home living for NEST mag, doing some freelance journalism and editing, working on my novel and thinking of ideas for how to realize some of the short films I've been wanting to make. I'm always working on a lot of different ideas at once. What I lack in singular focus, I more than make up with a variety of inspirations.

And then there's this blog. As much as I wanted to write longer pieces for it this year, the runaway horse has gotten the best of me, with the exception of a few select posts. I always have a lot of drafts on  ideas, what moves me, what I want to write about, but most often, I write, if not in the spur of the moment, then at least in a sort of inspired chaos.

I've actually been thinking about how I'd like this blog to be as a part of my creative self and have been working on the changes I want to make. I know it's almost nostalgic to my readers how little this space has changed in the last six years, but I'm starting to feel like it could use a little airing out.

How Does My Work Differ From Others In Its Genre

Writing in a language that is not native to me, can be both an asset and an obstacle. On the one hand, I feel like I'm much more curious, receptive and enamored with English than many of its native speakers, on the other, it can sometimes hinder my self-expression and make me doubt my creative process. Writing in what will always be essentially a foreign language, no matter how fluent I get adds a little extra layer to my work.

It's taken me a long time to realize that others don't' necessarily view the world as I do, think the same way, or make the same connections. Aquarians are apparently often forward thinking, ahead of their time, eccentric and on the margins, and that has often been the case for me with my creative process. I'm really good at putting things together, finding connections, seeing things from a variety of angles. I wish I could say it always works in my advantage, but that is not necessarily the case.

On this blog, I try to be honest and sincere even as I, like most bloggers, often focus on the positive and the beautiful. Sadly, I think that actually makes my writing here quite different from most blogs. There's not a lot of blogs out there that combine the two, as well as not having a particular agenda beyond the simple act of allowing a peek into another's life and connecting with folks interested in similar things.

Why Do I Create What I Do

I don't really know how else to make sense of the world. Writing is a very basic need for me, even though I don't feel like it comes easily to me. I have a very dichotomous relationship with this medium. I can't stop doing it, but I often wish I could.

How Does My Writing Process Work

I have lot of things on the back burner, endless ideas, snippets and characters in the pantry. Filing away information, associations, dialogue, polarities, is like second nature to me. The older I get, the more actual notes I take, but I'm always noting things, even when I don't realize it. I'm also always writing. It's almost an involuntary reflex; if I'm not thinking about something specific, or focusing on a task, I'm writing in my head. Over the years I've gotten better about it, being more mindful of the moment, not constantly revising imaginary events, or passively observing my surroundings, but it's still kind of my default mode.

When I finally sit down to my computer and write, it sometimes seems more fluent than it ought to, because parts of the work are already written out in my head. I revise as I go, something a lot of writing teachers and books about writing advice against, but it works for me. I usually start out by working on one piece and then editing a whole different one. There are chapters in my novel I have revised, or almost completely re-written dozens of times. Part of this comes from my dyslexia, but mostly it's simply a need to wring out the best possible book, story, chapter, paragraph, or sentence, my brains and bones can muster.

Writing is pretty much the only pursuit where my perfectionist tendencies come out. I hate mediocrity, half-baked ideas, or laziness around language. I'm constantly editing everything I read, and have insanely high standards when it comes to liking and loving books, articles and essays. While I'm pretty critical of the works of others, it only reflects how hard I am on my own work. In fact, I've almost never written anything I thought was good enough. Blogging has been really good for my compulsivity around writing, since it's all about letting less than perfect pieces escape into the world.

It's also taught me a lot about inspiration, most importantly that you can coax it. That truly, if you just sit on your ass and keep typing, eventually the very mundane part of it usually falls away, allowing room for creativity.

As the rules of the hop mandate I've asked Inge if she would care to share the process behind her crisp, carefully crafted observations, which range from sweet to the dead-serious. As another non-native English speaker, I've enjoyed her pieces on creativity, nature and sustainable clothing tremendously and as someone who has a tendency to ramble on, I love her simpler, to-the-point-eloquent writing style.

However, I would love to hear from all of you writers and how your process works! Emmanuelle, Maria, Mary, Julie and all, it would be love to read your thoughts on the matter.


  1. As a creative person (and architect by trade), I often feel bombarded by inspiration, and equally lacking it. I completely agree that it can be coaxed, and at work it must be so - I'm not really paid to lie around until the lightning bolt strikes. I have to dive into it - sometimes into the very middle - and then hope that it starts to seep out around the edges in a non-linear fashion. The only way that happens is by doing the mundane, and I love your words on this. It's now time for me to finish up this cup of coffee in my quiet house and dive into a day full of studying for a professional exam that I'm not really looking forward to tomorrow. The work is tedious and mundane, but even in there I sometimes find moments of mastery - times when I feel like I'm strong and smart and fully capable. And there is creativity in that.

    Thanks for participating in this, I look forward to more of your writing. - Kristin

  2. I too usually have many things going on at once. Life just wouldn't be interesting to me to just focus on one thing. While some may think Adderall, I think curious. I am extremely curious about the world. By the way, I wanted to give you the web address of Mom's Clean Air Force site, it is

  3. Oh Milla, I actually had a big smile of anticipation when I realized that this post would shed light on your writing life! I am happy that Lauren has tagged you (her own piece on the subject is very interesting as well) - and I am so honoured to find myself in your list of bloggers-writers!

    A lot of what you say resonates with my experience... Writing as a second nature, keeping a journal, describing a situation in my head, in retrospect or even while I am living it - this was in fact a problem for me during a number of years, because it prevented me to be fully there. Today, writing is more like a tool among other tools that I have developed for expressing my emotions, feelings, and awareness.

    (Drawing and painting, but also my deepening relationship with trees, and with humans of course, have been more and more present in my life, comparatively. But guess what? All of this has become strangely and closely linked within my blog - I had created it as an art blog, and I had no idea I would get involved in writing about all this.)

    For me too, the fact that English is not my mother language sometimes creates a kind of veil between my thinking and my words - mainly when I am tired, however. On the other hand, writing in English allows me to be (a bit) more synthetic and to the point. For you see, I also tend to consider things from various angles, and I sometimes feel drawn to explore the connections. This can lead me to develop a topic way more than I intended, even when writing emails to my friends or - you guessed it - in blog comments!

    In a few occurrences, I sat down and wrote a short piece (story, or poem) that felt almost dictated to me. When it was finished, I read again each paragraph, did a few adjustments, and that was it. To this day, they are still the more powerful, evocative and true pieces of writing I have ever done.

    But I can't *create* these occurrences, nor do I feel the need to.

    The rest of the time, I do mostly like Lauren: I sit with a general idea of what I want to talk about, and I discover the actual unfolding of my post (or email) as I write. Which is truly motivating and gratifying! However, I do a lot of editing as I go, just like you do, Milla.

    And some weeks it just takes days before I can "feel" the text is right: nice rhythm, unity and appropriateness of tone; everything important is mentioned in the right way, and non-important things are left out. It has a life of its own. Then I am ready to share it :o)

  4. Milla-- I've always wondered about your thoughts on English. I have been a long time reader, and follower from the w_r days... and having grown up with a father who is a non-native English speaker it always amazed me how fluent you are!!! Not only fluent grammatically, but in sayings and phrases. I speak only two other languages (one moderately to poorly, the other pretty badly-- so I guess that doesn't even really constitute any sort of fluency), and I LOVE language dearly. It's one of the things I look for in a good book as I so enjoy reading for good prose. You have a beautiful gift for that :) I'd love to read any of your published pieces if you ever care to share!

  5. As someone who is a terrible writer, I find this very interesting! I find it close to impossible to accurately put my thoughts in to words so I admire people, like yourself, who can.

  6. thank you for sharing, I have been enjoying your words for a while now, and your honest voice is probably what attracted me most
    . I feel like blogging in an other language made me care and think a lot more about the words I use, the same way I need to actually listen to things in English rather than just hear them in French (my native language) Does that make sense? :)

  7. I finally read your whole post since I finally felt I had the time and attention it deserves. I love reading about your process and the things that are different and the same as mine! I also feel I'm more curious and enamored with English than native speakers, and also less lazy. I often read many grammatical errors that make me chuckle, because I'm like: I'm Dutch and even I know that's not right! I'm a bit of a grammar nazi I suppose, in Dutch as well as English (though I'm pretty sure I do make mistakes in the latter without realizing). My default mode is also passively observing my surroundings or writing in my head and even though I do try to be more mindful in certain moments, part of me loves being in that mode, like my own little world.
    Thanks again for asking me to participate! In the end I couldn't resist also discussing my writing (as you've read). xoi