Getting It Down

I’ve been working on this weblog since August, and it’s quickly overtaken my Garmin navigation system as the latest thing I don’t know how I lived without before I got it. It’s become something that I make time for several days a week and really enjoy laboring over. As luck would have it, during this time of my life I’m at a place where I can focus on doing something for myself like write a blog and not feel guilty that I’m neglecting other more “pressing” matters. That’s the amazing thing about pregnancy for me: it’s truly allowed me to relax and be more authentically Emily because an authentic Emily will make for a better-adjusted Mom.

As everything will have changed this time next year with the arrival of Bebe, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the structure of my life now, and more specifically, the routine I have in maintaining this heaven-sent blog which has come to mean a lot to me. Hopefully in a year – when my life is monopolized by scenarios I don’t even know exist yet – I’ll be able to look back here and take some advice from myself about what was working for me, writerly-wise, and get inspired to continue on within my new situation if I’m having difficulty doing so.

Dear Self,

Here’s what you were doing to hammer out this blog in November 2011 when you were twenty weeks pregnant.

Cheers,

Emily

Getting Ideas 

Even though I actually sit down to write on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’m always thinking about something to say. I mean, constantly. I try to take everything seriously as fodder for me to chew. Even though I am now writing primarily about pregnancy, it’s not the only thing I’m thinking about. Even though I haven’t yet written about current events such as the OWS movement, the Republican nomination race, the recession, education in America, and so many other things I’m intrigued with, my thoughts are always there and a lot of times my tone towards these issues fleshes itself out in my writing about pregnancy. For example, if I seem really frustrated while writing about some pregnancy absurdity, I’m probably also irked by something I heard about in the news. Likewise, if I feel inspired by a book I’m reading or an art movement that I’m learning about, it’s probably going to feed into what I say on my blog on a certain day, albeit in an oblique way.

For me, it’s all about allowing stimuli to inform what I’m saying, even if I don’t express it blatantly. It’s all about opening myself up to inspiration and applying it to my current situation.

Writing

I generally post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; those are also the days that I write. I have a routine that works for me. I get up and eat breakfast while I read weblogs that I follow. I do some morning chores, get dressed, and sit down to write by 11:30 AM at the latest. And I write straight through my entry in one sitting; I try not to edit too much at this stage because when I was in school studying English and writing a lot, I regularly hit walls when I tried to write and edit concurrently. (More on that later.) I blog on WordPress, and I write my entries directly into the website rather than in a separate document; this just works better for me, although I do eventually save my entries in separate Word documents.

I try to keep an open mind when I write. Again, the whole authenticity thing comes up; I strive to be myself, but I also censor myself to a certain degree initially. If I personally feel uncomfortable saying something, I examine it rather than just avoid it completely. I make sure that I’m not intentionally omitting something because it may turn people off. If, after close examination, I still don’t feel comfortable saying something and it’s because of my own feelings, I leave it out but don’t forget about it. It’s very volatility suggests that it’s rife for further exploration in another post. I come to grips with how I’m going to address it in a way that makes me satisfied, and it turns up in another post.

Editing

After I finish a post, I usually read through it once or twice, checking for grammatical errors and ¬†wordiness. When I was in school, I used to get major strikes from my profs for my inclination towards wordiness; you know you’ve got a problem when you write a paper on Derridian deconstruction and the number one criticism you get is that you sound too much like Derrida yourself. So I make an effort here to keep my writing straightforward and to avoid convolution.

And after those one or two readthroughs, I press “Publish”. I don’t sit on my posts overnight or anything like that. I get the post up almost directly after I write it. The bulk of my editing comes post-publication. Why?

I studied English in college and graduate school, so the majority of my work was in writing papers. I got massively weighed down in drafting and editing. Judging by my grades, my work was good, but I dreaded each and every assignment because I knew that all my hard work would eventually culminate in an endless round of self-inflicted editing drudgery. I was unsure of myself and my capabilities, so I examined everything and unfortunately cut a lot of things that were already great as-is.

I’m in retaliatory mode now. I publish straight away. No turning back. However, on the days I publish, I go back and read the post through several more times on the blog itself and make slight changes throughout the day. Pressing “Publish” is kind of like yanking off the proverbial Band-Aid. This system of editing works for me a lot better. It’s emblematic for the confidence I’m developing.

Now, what works for you?

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18 comments

  1. I write on Sunday for my blog and on Tuesday or Wednesday for a parent column I write for a local paper. I would like to write earlier in the week, but I’m always up against the deadline. I write in Word and then copy into WordPress. I maintain a blog for a political organization, too, and that is in Blogger. I prefer WordPress. I, too, chew over everything in my life. I take notes on things that happen in my family. They are aware that whatever they say might end up in the blog. I never use names in my blog, except for my husband’s. He’s a big boy; he can take it. My children, though, are entitled to their privacy. Likewise the other family and friends that make it into a post.

    I write straight through on a post, usually taking about two hours for 1,000 words. I write long because, well, that was a completely arbitrary decision. I do not publish until the following morning when I proof like a maniac. I must proof about five times, including reading backward. I don’t trust spell check at all; it has no sense of style.

    Love your take on pregnancy and life. I hope you keep finding time to write. It’s very difficult when you have children (she said, as if no one has told you that yet). I would love, love, love to hear current events and political posts.

    1. It’s always great to hear how someone who gets paid to write (as I assume you do for your column) does it. I’ll hopefully be in that position someday. I’ve been researching writing query letters to tiny publications because it would be a dream to be able to write from home while the baby is growing up.

      Thank you for your kind comments!

  2. I’m sure it shows that I’m not a writer, I am more of a journal-er. I write on a whim, I rarely go back and even proof read. I write when I’m bored and usually after I’ve read my blogs for the day on google reader. Occasionally I put more effort into a post (like my stroller post) because it’s something I plan to go back and reference but 95% of the time I just write whatever strikes my fancy and I don’t dress it up. The only censoring I do is to change my husband’s name out (I often type it before going back and changing to ‘husband’) to remain anonymous.

    I do find that my favorite blogs are those by people with much more writing skill, but I’m not looking to build a readership, I blog for myself, so I can go back and see what i was doing at such and such a time (hence my NUMEROUS blogs). Great article/entry! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I agree that it is great to blog simply so you can go back and see where you were at a certain place in your life. Pregnancy blogs are fantastic for that but also for what you mentioned about writing posts that deal with product reviews, such as strollers. There is major orchestration involved in preparing for a baby and these kinds of posts not only help the parent-to-be get organized but also help so many other expectant parents. So thanks for your stroller post! ;)

  3. I haven’t yet figured out what works best for me; as you saw, I’ve upped and changed things a bit and am trying to get a grip on what the heck FOCUS means. So far, I’ve had nothing remotely similar to a regular schedule for posting, and the writing of the posts is done on WordPad so that I’m not blocking up my phone line for hours (dial-up was the only option for internet for us here in the middle of nowhere) while I stop and start and stop and clean and play with Baby whilst attempting to write something that makes sense. It’s even harder to write when my husband is home because we share the laptop and haven’t figured out a decent compromise on it yet. And that brings me to my most current post- doing a little remodeling, plus a lot of actual organization in my cluttered mind.

    1. Focus-schmocus. So overrated :) I’m trying to figure out where I want this blog to go once the baby’s born. I feel conflicted about making it a mommy blog, but I want to talk about those kinds of things sometimes. We’ll see. That’s the good thing about WordPress; you can always start another blog for free.

      BTW I love the new look of your blog and even though I love your content just the way it is, I’m looking forward to seeing what surprises you have in store for it :D

  4. I feel like I fly by the seat of my pants. I write when I’m fired up or feel I have something to share, and I don’t when I don’t. I don’t blog on weekends, and I try not to post after 5pm. I don’t have a brand or a genre– my blog ranges from food to politics to theology, though it’s rather heavy on pregnancy these days. I sit down to write, hammer out a post, read over it once, and then hit publish– but that’s how I write everything. I don’t meticulously edit even my academic writing. I don’t do editorial calendars, giveaways, SEO or tons of social networking or efforts to promote my blog. My philosophy has always been, “if you write it [well], they will come.” Honesty, being myself, that’s my brand. I guess it’s working? Traffic steadily creeps up. Just recently passed 100,000 total views. I don’t think I’m going to be the next Dooce, but writers crave readers, and I keep on writing as long as folks keep reading.

    1. I would definitely say it’s working! Just the other day, I finally clicked on your tabs for your posts on politics and faith and I really enjoyed reading your posts there. It shows a lot of versatility on your part that you can write well on topics like those and then also blog interestingly/ insightfully about pregnancy and rehabbing patio furniture. Here’s to 100,000 more :D

  5. I hate to say it, but . . . the middle of the night works best for me. I have to steal time for writing. I would love to have a time, day, whatever devoted to writing, but life keeps getting in the way. It was nice to hear from jmlindy422 that 2 hours for 1000 words is not excessive or the obsessive proofing. Thank goodness, I thought it was just me.

    1. Whatever works! Everyone works within their own bounds and in a schedule that’s conducive to their life; there’s really no right or wrong way to do it.

      I average about 1000 words for every two hours, too. I read at a much slower pace, though.

  6. I think all the time about what I am going to blog. Write notes to myself so I wont forget. I often delete the whole thing after I write it and start over if I dont get a good vibe.

    1. I’ve gotten to the point where I write myself notes too, especially when I turn a phrase or hear a pun that I want to duplicate. Your blog is BEYOND hilarious to me; whatever else you’re doing, it’s working :)

  7. For me, academic writing is (was) work. Blogging isn’t work; if it were I wouldn’t do it. I tend to take an off-the-cuff, stream-of-consciousness approach to blogging, and I keep posts brief … the longer they get, the more they feel like work! The only really consistent thing is that I write and edit concurrently. I wish I could turn off my internal editor, but it just doesn’t shut up.

    Pregnancy seems to have given me the drive to blog regularly again, which I haven’t since high school. I’ve always blogged for myself and to keep friends updated, and that’s still more or less the case. Though I’ve been secretive about the site this time around, haven’t linked it to facebook or twitter or anything.

    1. I have been trying to get my posts briefer; for me, it’s not really an issue of editing them down after writing but just setting (and keeping) goals from the beginning to keep them under a certain word count. I think you do a great job of keeping things succinct!

  8. Interesting about your writing/editing techniques. I tend to do a read through or two, publish, then read once more within a day or so for a final edit. I was an engineering major, so I probably have no business writing in the first place.

    1. Hahaha I would beg to differ on that last statement! When I was in college, I did my workstudy in the Writing Center and I knew several engineering majors who worked in there who could run circles around me. In your case, you can write and literally run circles around me, so I think you’re good :)

  9. It’s interesting reading about everyone’s publication processes.
    I’m always thinking about things I should blog about and I have so many drafts on my posts page!
    I try to publish twice a week, and when I get my act together I can do it pretty quickly, but I am a major procrastinator!
    Thanks for always stopping by my blog by the way :)

    1. Interestingly, I only have like two drafts that I’ve never published. I think it’s because if I don’t publish them right away after I write them, I’m just never going to publish them. It’s not because they’re controversial or anything; they’re just meh.

      You are one of the few bloggers who, if you ever decided to post more frequently, I truly wouldn’t mind at all :) I love reading about your take on Korea. I think we would’ve been friends had we lived there at the same time :)

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