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