Trust the Process

Bethany Beinke

My former Very Awesome Roommate was an art therapy major who loved the phrase “Trust the Process.” There were many late nights where she sat doing lovely art things while I wrote, and one or the other of us would become utterly frustrated or uninspired by what we’d just created. We would shout across the apartment to each other: “Trust the Process.”

What does that mean in writing?

a) You’ve gotta trust your instincts and listen to them, even if they’re telling you that beautiful piece of prose you’ve just finished needs MAJOR tweaking.

b) You must embrace the wonder of writing and publishing with all its crazy zigs and zags, hair-pin turns and dead-ends.

Just because you haven’t had a perfect writing day today doesn’t mean you’ll never have one again! I’ve had several times where I've been rolling along and suddenly slammed into a steel-plated wall. I’ll know the book, the characters—I might even know the next scene—but I’ve lost that perfect Voice that lets me capture it.

Inevitably, I stew, try to force words onto the page, end up punching my delete key like a fiend (or doing fiendish cross outs with my blue pen) and then glare at the screen (notebook) until I want to strangle it. Then, with whispers of Very Awesome Roommate saying “Trust the Process, Nicole,” I walk away.

And you know what usually happens? It comes back! Maybe that same day, maybe in a week, a month or the middle of the night, but that Unstoppable Author vibe will return.

I’ve learned there’s usually a good reason for its temporary disappearance. It might be a simple reminder that there’s life outside of writing. It could be a rejection or a non-response that sends you to the Internet frantically searching for answers, where you discover a new blog or site or book. (Oh, look, writing people – I shall make them my friends).

For me, momentary frustration with one idea often helps me stumble upon the next equally-amazing one, which leads me directly back into the dizzying cycle of I Love Writing!

Sometimes, trusting the process requires the patience of a saint when we’d much rather be sobbing, screaming or tearing out our hair. Other times, it asks us to leap, even if we’re not quite sure we can fly yet.

There is a certain madness to this great thing we call writing. But it’s a poetic, dancing madness, not without reason, and I suspect it’s a little bit of why we love this whole industry in the first place.


  1. I think I need to get "Trust the Process" blown up into a huge poster to hang over my desk.

  2. This couldn't have come at a better time! I'm more than a quarter into my short story/novella now, and since I've edited the first act so much already, I can't help but think that what I have down so far for Act II simply sucks in comparison. It's really destroys my motivation at times, but then I remind myself that eventually I'll be at the editing stage when I can make it a billion times better.

  3. We should make T-shirts! :)

    GK - Workin' through that a bit myself right now. It's tough to keep pushing when real-life keeps crowding in and you're not sure where exactly this dream is gonna take you (and you feel a bit crazy for following it). But I've gotta believe we've got these stories in our heads for a reason!