Articles Writing

Why I write: “My Writing Process”


A few weeks ago, I was asked by a fellow writer to detail my process of writing. First of all, thank you Michael Paul (Billy Tabbs & The Glorious Darrow) for inviting me to do this blog tour. It’s an honor even being asked to talk about my writing process, which has currently halted. It’s both a chance to learn from other writers and kickstart/restart the process as I get time away from my day job to devote to writing.


So, why do I write?


This is a question I’ve been asking myself since I started writing. I guess the most honest answer to this question is because sometimes it is enjoyable and sometimes it makes me feel like more than I am. I enjoy being creative and writing has always been of strength of mine.


But I write for a deeper reason. I’m searching for something. Sometimes I can taste it when the writing writes itself.


I write for these “moments”. Moments when the words disappear and regardless of what I’m writing, I perceive a depth, a chasm, that opens up in what I’ve written. And out of this depth, a realization, something unsaid, is understood by both the characters and the reader. That what they’re reading is a facet of the human condition, of life. The human condition in its most purest form is witnessed. It diminishes when it is put to words in a thesis on an essay. My essays are observations by the reader and writer, translated only into understanding and emotion. It’s the best type of pathos.


I write for those real moments, those enlightening moments, those discovered moments. When you understand something more than what is just written.


1. What are you working on?


I’m currently working on a novel called The Cleaner. It’s a crime drama set in Brampton.


It’s a story about a forty something hitman who cleans up crime scenes for the mob. The Cleaner has a code: never ask questions, never get involved. He tries to instill this code on to his young protege.


This is the story of that code breaking.


The story has morphed a lot since I started it in 2012. It was a bare bones crime noir with short chapters and very little exposition, my aim being to have the readers learn about the characters purely in the moment. I’ve been working currently on finding a balance between how much exposition I want to put and how much we’re in the scene.


I’m also working on an album of music.


2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?



I don’t like being judged based on my genre. But the reality is, it’s impossible for any writer not to be judged by their genre until they transcend it and write some classic that teachers force you to read in high schools, ones that you can get an essay out of it.


Without picking a genre, here’s what I like to write about: criminals, gangsters, average Joes, regular people, families… complex characters that aren’t so easily likeable, all going through a crisis or personal conflict, not so easily sympathetic with their choices, forced into critical and dramatic situations where the outcomes aren’t usually clear cut and moral and obvious, and the most important thing to take in is not a logic in the construction of the plot and events but the feeling of the situation the characters are in and the realization that realism is just a way to make sense of the world, that unexplainable things happen and that the action happens more so due to illogical character motivations than anything else with the function of the main internal con-…


You know what. Fuck it. I’m a crime writer. My work differs only in that now I’m writing the words. If it is different, you be the judge.


3. Why do you write what you do?


I write what I want to read. I read what I want to write. I’m a writer with literary ambitions but also one who would throw the literary out the window for a guilty pleasure action sequence involving witty wiseguys and humorous situations.


I’m like a pizza that’s trying to be gourmet Italian cuisine. Every so often you’ll taste the rich tomato sauce under the cheese that’ll remind you of the best of literary classics… but then you’ll taste the pepperonis and its back to instant gratification and drivebys for the sake of drivebys.


4. How does your writing process work?


Writing is an act of creation. We take that as a given. But I believe a creator must be comfortable with destruction. A writer that creates must also destroy, destroy the words he writes that are unnecessary, destroy the monotony when the story slows down, destroy the characters to get the vapor of pathos out of their cracked skulls, destroy the process to reach a conclusion and move on. Stories end when the writer chooses to destroy the routine of writing.


For me, destruction is essential to creation. What I mean by this is you need to be comfortable with deleting sections and editing to prune away the unnecessary stuff. I like sharp, direct prose because it’s the most powerful, most effective. Before a scene is finished and even during the process of writing it, I’ll read it back and forth and edit over and over. I edit and write at the same time. Destruction is necessary because it refines your ideas.


I usually start on an idea before it’s taken too much hold on my mind, while it’s fresh and exciting. I’ve found too much planning is creatively stifling. I also find I’m the most productive in a time frame. A lot of projects have died in development hell and I’ve learned recently that giving myself a time frame to complete something allows me to finish and move on. You need to move on. You need to.


If I sit with an idea for too long, it never gets made. The expectations morph and become unintelligible in my head. The idea itself loses creative vigor and nothing seems natural.


My writing rituals are quite basic. I try to write when I’m inspired but you can’t wait for it. Instead, I have some methods to get me in that state of mind. If writing while inspired is sugar, than my forced state of inspiration is Splenda. I get to it with a cup of coffee and some music to set the mood. And sometimes it feels like the real thing. But the real thing acted on is the best. Other things I do are organize my work area so the clutter doesn’t affect my head. I usually write at night but early morning writing is great too. It’s all about routine and positive thinking.


My process is always changing. I’m still trying to figure what works and what doesn’t. I haven’t completed a major project yet so that’s proof that maybe in a few months, all of the above may be bullshit. All writers know they can write when they realize just how good they are at bullshitting on paper.


Look for my work soon. I’ll be writing some articles this year. An album this year will also drop. Maybe a finished novel next year… can’t be too optimistic.


With that said, let me introduce Amrita Gill, a writer from Edmonton, Alberta. Amrita writes poetry that’s really observational. Some of her stuff reminds me of Charles Bukowski at his best.  She’s next in line for the writing process blog. Check her out:



– AS


July 7, Breakthrough


By Ashish Seth

Photography Writing

Feb 27, Writing and Creation

Whenever I discover a new way of expressing myself, the best way to describe me is like a kid discovering a new device to play with. The possibilities of what I can do are limitless because I have no clue what anything on the device does. I’m simply playing. So I experiment: I explore the possibilities and limitations of that device until I’ve realized them. Once I’ve realized them, my work with that device gets more refined, more thought out, controlled, calculated, premeditated, complicated, meticulous, confused… difficult. I’m not a person to be around when things get difficult. People will tell me my work with that device is fine, I shouldn’t let it worry me, but I’ll always find some damn problem. Eventually problems will mount and mount and I’ll come to the realization that my original intention for what I was creating is gone, lost in a mind filled with foggy indecision. And I’ll start digging my mind of previous brainstorms and cellular notes I should’ve put to paper for that ORIGINAL intention only to find that that original intention was a fragment of some nostalgic memory from my childhood. I’ll be in the washroom thinking about this fragment, making abstract and vague realizations that all my creative ideas are adolescent neuroses that define me. And then! Then insecurity will take me and I’ll start worrying about what other people will think of me when they see these neuroses. I’ll finish up in the bathroom, go downstairs and put on a movie and instantly get inspired. And I’ll feel good. I’ll go back up and start to work with that device but eventually I’ll take a step back and won’t see myself in my work. Instead, my work will reflect that movie. Finally I’ll find myself in a rut, sitting belly out, meters away from that device that gave me such creative pleasure.

This is happened to me with writing. I feel like I’ve lost my ability to express myself with it. Thus, I’ve started to express myself through photography, in an attempt to resurrect that creative spirit of discovery, perhaps glimpse it, analyze it, and understand just how I had it with writing. In doing so, perhaps I can get my creative writing drive back, perhaps resurrect a reverie in the craft that is hopeful. I make it a habit to take pictures everyday. I take them regardless of quality, artistic merit, or some academic institution bound standard. I take them with the means I have, an iPhone 4s. If you were to criticize the lack of professionalism in them, or the fact that they’re amateur or uninformed by a photographic academic discursive consistency, I would tell you fine. All I’m trying to do when I take these pictures is chase a feeling. That is it. If you were to criticize my pictures for lacking realism because of the filters I throw on them, I would tell you I don’t care about realism. There’s nothing natural about taking a photograph of a moment in time in the first place. I don’t care about realism or naturalism. I am processed. All my favorite things in the world are processed, from Radiohead’s Kid A, to my shampooed hair, to my dog’s brushed fur or the sauce on my cheese pizza. I take a picture of nothing, look at it, find something in the picture I like, zoom into that spot, apply filters, and transform it to as close as I can get it to that feeling I’m chasing. That’s it. All I’m doing is following a feeling.

I love writing. It keeps me sane. If I’m not expressing myself through writing, I’m depressed. Out of all my creative pursuits, writing is the one that underlies and defines everything. It is through writing I find my most genuine self, my voice. Last year I found myself in a creative block from writing because things got too difficult. It was one of the worst years of my life. Expectations piled on, I became insecure about myself, I lost faith in the choices I’d made in my life, and I stopped writing because it depressed me. I saw no more meaning in it. There were days when I didn’t feel like waking up. Most days I sat doing nothing. For the first time in my life my mind was vacant.
But I had to write. I had to get back my creative stride. I was tired of oblivion. So I looked back at that device. That confused, difficult device. I had to find a reason to do it again. Difficult wasn’t impossible. I had to convince myself these words weren’t meaningless. I needed to write to keep healthy. I had to find a way to salvage my passion.
I took a writing course. Through it I met a group of writers. I meet with this group of writers every Wednesday. Simply discussing our writing problems is therapeutic and helpful. It shows I’m not the only one struggling. They’ve been helping me out of this rut. We meet every Wednesday for three hours and I can honestly say those three hours are the best part of my week. I’ve been working my way out of this writer’s block through routine and discipline. I’ve started a blog and make it a habit to take a photograph every day. Now I’m making the goal to write something, anything, every day and post it up for people to see. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Writing is a habit. Creation is a habit. My goal is to be open about myself. I’ve learned that the best cure for a depression is unapologetic creation. It’s not hard. I’m getting better. All I got to do is chase that feeling. With the support of my peers in my writing group, I will find my way back to being a writer.

Ashish Seth