Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Sharing Process and Work-in-Progress

In many ways, “share” has become the default verb for how we put material, ideas, or images online. On Facebook, if you click “share,” you will duplicate and repost another person’s post.

When we use “share” to describe information, we are divulging, disclosing, or confiding. “I want to share this news with you,” we might say, or “I’m not sharing this with everyone yet.”

When we apply “share” to the material, to food or toys, for instance, we usually mean “to give some/half to someone else” or “to divide equally.” There’s Share Bear, the Care Bear whose stomach had an image of an ice cream float with two straws in it. Let’s both have some of this together, at the same time.

Even in this digital space, I want to borrow more from Share Bear’s definition. Sometimes, people ask me if it’s odd to share my work-in-progress, to share creative work that’s unfinished. I’ve realized that I don’t do that, exactly (except for maybe in my process videos). Rather, I share the first version of a finished draft.

When I ask for feedback on a piece, I usually only share what feels mostly finished. I don’t think this is true of every artist (nor is it necessarily bad). Getting feedback (whether positive, negative, or even neutral) too early on in my process is disruptive to me.

However, I consistently devour and seek out projects centered on process. I love witnessing how people do what we do; particularly, I love hearing people reflect on how they do what they do.

For me, there are things that are essential in my process, and others that are less essential. For example, I always think of myself as writing from the inside out. I don’t have a concept or finished product in mind at all. I begin with a line or two, or a collection of words, and inch my way forward in the dark (sort of Wardrobe-Into-Narnia method). Bit by bit, I try to figure out where the piece wants me to go.

But there are absolutely pieces of my process that are less crucial to me, that have perhaps simply accumulated over time. For instance, I usually write for about an hour at a time on the weekdays, and am often writing with the goal of having a draft to post here. This morning, I was wondering…what would happen if I only worked on one poem this week? If I posted no drafts? If I posted only a partial draft? Or even just a fragment? If I wrote for a few hours one day, and none the next?

This week, I’m going to actively disrupt my usual process a little bit. What’s the fun of being an artist if we can’t break our own invented rules?

I also want to ask you: what are the essential parts of your process, and which bits could be pulled away or changed? Do you change how you create? I would love it if you share your thoughts. Here…have a straw.


  1. Interesting thoughts & topic, Hannah. Like you, I mostly seek feedbacks on something I feel almost finished. When I'm in a painting mode I'd lock myself inside a room to create an atmosphere of silence & would never get out until a piece of art was ever birthed. I hate it when my father would peek at my artworks at times even if it was already finished, & my reason was kind of weird as I'd like my artworks be seen by my Mum first before anyone else. On the other side, when I'm in a creative writing mode I normally would start a poem thinking of the title first. I'm very picky & critical at writing titles for my poems as titles initially would set the mood of a poem---the catchier, the better for me (same applies to my reading process). I am very inventive too at my own writing. I always would want to create new pairing of words, original language & phrasings. I, also, love inventing new forms in poetry. Last year, I had invented a form I called "Tilus" & named after my Mum's reversed maiden name "Sulit". It was a micro piece consisting of 2 parts, the first part having only 2 lines following a 6-3-syllable count while the second part had only 1 line of only 1-syllable word. For example:

    Tilus 13

    City lights blur before
    quiet eyes---


    Tilus 3

    River blue: I quaff clouds
    on river


    Almost like Haiku in a less traditional way, one would notice. But unlike the free execution a contemporary haiku could offer, Tilus requires a complete expression of a thought using only 10 syllables in overall count, epic in emotions expressed than being epic in words.

    This celebration of Poetry Month, I plan on doing 30 found poems in 30 days & my process will center or focus on creating & finding a poem from the works of the great dead, our poetic ancestors. Smiles.

    Thanks for the enjoyable read & share I had in here, Hannah!

    - ksm

    1. I love the Tilus form and story of its invention, ksm! It sounds like you and your Mom have a special relationship, and that she is very inspiring to you.

      30 found poems in 30 days...that sounds really wonderful. If you post your poems, please feel free to include a link here.

    2. Thanks Hannah! Glad to know you liked Tilus, & yes---my Mom was, in every single way, a great inspiration to me. Smiles. My first found poem was from the wonderful poet, & one of my fave, Carl Sandburg--- Day 1: New Man
      ...feel free to visit whenever possible at your end.

      - ksm

  2. Hannah--as always, appreciate your generous-spirited posts. Especially process posts!

    I am always drawn to reading about artists' process, how they do what they do. So I'll be really interested in what others post here. For myself, dailyish poems written and posted are play, not work. I write them with my morning coffee, while it's still dark outside, and post them online before going off to my job each day. I enjoy the habit, and I enjoy the daily reminder that creativity bubbles up if tended on a regular basis, and if I don't demand that every piece be perfect or even very good. This mindset has led me to accumulate a tiny mountain of poems, studded with a few shiny ones I'm proud of ---poems that wouldn't exist if I wasn't willing to write lots of less-shiny poems along the way.

    I write poems to keep my hand in the creativity pot, stirring it up. For most of the year, my free time is pretty limited, and daily poems are do-able. In the past, when I've had uninterrupted chunks of free time, I've tried to be very stern and disciplined and tackled Big Projects. It didn't work out very well. So, just as you are getting ready to disrupt your daily process and mix it up, I am doing just the opposite. My poem practice suits me the way it is, like one delicious piece of candy a day. But for my next Big Project, a novel, I've decided to nibble at it a little each day rather than wait till I can set aside major chunks of time. We'll see how it goes. Best of luck to you and your lovely work.

    1. I love your description of daily poems as little pieces of candy...that's exactly right!!

      It sounds smart to mirror your daily practice when you work on your novel--you are brave to take that on. I'll be interested to hear if you feel any difference in what you're doing when you write prose (versus poetry)...

      Thanks for your thoughts here!


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