There, there, little writing phobia

"The angel doesn't sit on your shoulder unless the pencil's in your hand."

~ Mary Oliver
I have that quote posted over in the sidebar and on a bulletin board. But I've been thinking. Is that even true? For me?
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I'm knee-deep in writing a paper for my public health class (my LAST class for my degree. Woohoo! Let's not talk about all the writing that is still ahead of me...).
I have such a love/hate relationship with writing*. I need writing. I love to have written. But it's painful. After 23 years of school (ahem. I know, makes you want to stage an intervention, doesn't it?), I'm finally okay with the way my mind seems to need to write. Instead of fruitless sessions of staring at a blank screen and panicking, I've gone with my natural tendencies to ruminate and organize and THEN write.
  1. I get the assignment. Or the idea.
  2. I start hating the assignment/idea but my brain starts mulling.
  3. I think about it. When I'm making beds, when I'm loading the dishwasher, when I'm in the car, little ideas are floating to the top of my mind. But it counts as time working on the paper (I tell myself)! (If it's a lit review, I start reading articles and taking notes.)
  4. I start jotting down random ideas. I am still terrified of actually writing but tell myself to just write whatever ideas have surfaced. There, there, little writing phobia.
  5. I start organizing the randomness into a skeleton outline. Again, much soothing of anxiety and telling myself it's no big deal, just writing an outline here.
  6. More thinking. I have to walk away several times (sometimes you just have to give in to the adult onset ADD) and come back and type a few more lines.
  7. Finally I start writing little snippets into the outline. Again, I am really sneaking up on myself. The idea is to get everything to the stage where the writing is all that's left: the ideas, order, and structure are already done! It might look like procrastination but it's really all just my necessary prep work.
  8. NOW I'm truly writing the paper, linking the snippets and fleshing out thought. Inevitably I start getting excited and it starts feeling easier as the paper comes together. (Like childbirth, I'll forget all the pain and effort of the beginning once I get a glimpse of the final product.) THEN I love writing.
So I'm on #7 now with this paper, which makes it sound really good but all that writing is still ahead. Ugh. (And, as you can tell, I've walked away for a bit.)
For the longest time I tried to force myself into the One True Way of Writing, which (I thought or was taught) was sitting down at the computer and writing the whole thing, or at least spending hours on end focused on the writing. I fought myself the whole way.
In reality, if I would have just let myself do it the way I naturally operate--small bursts of attention and energy with lots of unproductive-looking baby steps--I would have been much more productive and happy. A peripatetic writer, that's what I am. And not really a procrastinator after all--a lot of the work just happens below the surface.
So, how does your writing/project process work?
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* does anyone have a love/love relationship with writing?

this was inspired, in part, by Marty's post about the writing muse. Have you checked out her terrific 12-week seminar? Try out her challenges for scouting out your muse. I think my muse hides under the covers or trembles in the corner until I've done all the other prep work. Or maybe she's around the whole time?