How do you write?

How do you write – your blog posts, your journal entries, your papers for school or work? I’m curious about your process.

  1. Do you sit down every morning with the topic or a catch-phrase and put words on the page?
  2. Would you consider yourself a “disciplined” writer? I’m guessing for those of you who post every day, there must be some structure to it. Do you journal every day at the breakfast table? Do you draw up an outline for the paper you’re writing?
  3. Do you draft multiple pieces, writing as much as you can on whatever you’re thinking about at the time, and come back later to develop it?
  4. Do you walk around with potential topics, even particular wording, battling for space in your brain? (This is how it happens for me – part of it writes itself in my thoughts.)
  5. Do you jot down a title or theme, based on a passing comment from a friend or a clever phrase you read someplace?
  6. A different process completely? Tell me more!

There would be days and days in a row where I wrote in my journal. Then the next entry would start with, ” Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written. In the past few weeks, I …”

I remember learning to write term papers in middle school – multiple drafts, scribbled on the yellow paper with the two red vertical lines on the left and 33 blue horizontal lines across the page. I’d write furiously, scribble, draw circles and arrows where I wanted to move phrases around, cross out – no, keep! I remember learning the process: paragraphs I, II, III. Key points per paragraph A, B, C. Sub points 1), 2), 3). Depending how long or detailed the paper was, there could be a), b), c), all under the sub points. If I got really fancy, there was i), ii), iii). Whew! We were often required to turn in several drafts per paper, the teacher red-penning suggestions and corrections and handing them back for the next revision.

The night before the paper was due, I’d fall asleep to the clickety-clack of Daddy on the manual typewriter, somehow reading through all the scribble on my final draft, and typing it for me. He is a fast typist – click click click zoom! (Listen here. Thanks, youtube.) Of course, the day came when we had to type our papers. I got my own typewriter for my birthday – the cartridge kind, where I’d pop out the ink cartridge to put in the corrector cartridge, and then switch again. That machine worked into my college years. Way before the cut-and-paste of a paper written with a word processor. When did that start?

So I’ve been wondering for the past several days exactly what is rattling around in my brain, and how do I “put it on paper?”

Part of the thought battling to be written down comes from my efforts at answering all the questions required for a particular blogging award. Quite frankly, I’ve been paralyzed by it. I got all the way to the last section and have been unable to finish it. So it sits in my DRAFTS. I like what I’ve written so far, but if I can’t finish the requirements to the award, how do I continue?

I have a DRAFT that I began back in April. I was clicking along as I wrote, and I found a good stopping spot for the night (I seem to start writing down my thoughts at 10:15pm, when I should be crawling into bed, like now!). The next morning, just before I was ready to finish and publish, I got some news from dear friends that made my post seem so inadequate compared to the pain they were suffering. So I left it for the future, maybe.

I have a DRAFT that is actually an email I wrote to someone. I really like what I said, I just need to generalize it a little so it’s not directed at any one in particular but to the general readership of my blog.

I have a story from my past that I long to share here, so I have key memories of the event jotted down in a DRAFT.

When I wrote my first blog post, I couldn’t find the DRAFT button, and was terrified that I was going to accidentally PUBLISH too soon. As it is, I make so many corrections – spelling, punctuation, active voice – and I save the DRAFT so often, each piece has – like – 20+ “revisions.” But I learned the importance of the SAVE button when I lost one of my first posts – poof! it was gone!

My husband and I were on a walk the other night, and I was telling him about being stuck on a particular post. And he reminded me that I don’t have to finish it. He told me that my blog is mine to write – or not write – what I want. I get to decide what I want to share, what I hope others want to read. So if I don’t finish a post I’ve started, so what? That’s my choice, my freedom.

Oh yeah! When I’m experiencing depression, it’s hard for me to think outside of the rules, whatever those are that I’ve established for myself. I get set in my ways; it’s very hard to think outside the box; I need to cut myself some slack. (Insert any other idioms that may apply.)

So, this is today’s post. The DRAFT acceptance for the blogging award will sit in my DRAFT folder – maybe I can rework some of it to be a regular post. Maybe I’ll finish revising the email-turned-post DRAFT – I really like that one. Maybe enough time has passed that I can feel comfortable posting the DRAFT from April.

But for now, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on writing. If you want to, in the comments below, choose 1-6 above and tell me a little about how you write. I’d love to know.

PS – this post has 22 revisions!

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10 thoughts on “How do you write?

  1. dawnlizjones July 26, 2015 / 5:26 pm

    AHHH!! Tell your husband he gets a major high five all the way from Missouri!! I’ve started having to take my computer out on the patio and do my Bible reads on the Kindle program (on the laptop) b/c so many times I start getting a “nudge” on a post. Rather than just jot it onto a piece of paper (and I still have a file full of those) I now just stop and put it into a draft in my word docs. And YES, even though I have an editorial calendar, that doesn’t mean the security of the free world depends on it. YOUR blog, YOUR choices! Go, girl! (PS I’m taking the wordpress Blogging 201 course online, really fun! You might enjoy it, or have you already done it??) God bless! Dawn

    Like

  2. hlhivy July 17, 2015 / 9:01 am

    People who watch me write think I have the ability to just write without much thought, but the truth is that I think about so many things all the time that when I write, what I write is some combination of all that I’ve been listening too or reading about and all the reader’s commentary that goes on in my head. Sometimes it feels inspired, at other times (like everyday this week) it feels more like I’m pulling something up from the bottom of a very empty barrel. I edit and proofread as I go – so that a simple email can take me an hour. Thank goodness for word processing. On formal papers my first draft is the same, but can start with a very detailed outline. A teacher I had taught us that spending three minutes to do even a rudimentary outline could keep us focused and on topic and would actually give us the ability to spend more time on getting the writing the way we wanted it to be. But sometimes I let those outlines stay in my head even when I should write them down. Overall, my hands are my voice – and my writing reflects my state of mind and emotions as much as it does my thoughts. Typing comes closer to keeping up with my thoughts, but any writing makes me zoom in on one train of thought and see it more clearly – trying to capture it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah Buchanan July 16, 2015 / 2:42 pm

    I spew ideas and then revise, revise, revise. It’s usually during the revision process that I am finally able to come up with an outline. Yes, I do do outlines, because it helps me organize my thoughts into a coherent structure.

    I have discovered lately, though, that I am a painstaking reviser, which is why it is taking me an eternity to get through this chapter. I also take breaks when I get to a sticking point, so I can think through the problems in my head. But when I am done with a section, I really like it!

    I also have a writing buddy: a colleague and I schedule times to write together. At the beginning of those sessions we set a goal for the day and then plug along side by side. Having a writing buddy might be the single most important factor in my writing productivity (besides all of my brilliant ideas, of course. 😉 ).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kbailey374 July 16, 2015 / 11:29 am

    I would say #6, what it is is some combo of all 5 depending upon how I’m doing and also depending upon which version of “the rules” I am following, haha!. I LOVED this post by the way! I have similar memories re term papers and typing, although my parents pleaded ignorance of their ability to use the “instrument” so I was on my own!

    Thought I would give you another version of the typewriter song, a bit humorous/updated:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol July 16, 2015 / 11:12 am

    For me, my process is a combination of 3, 4, and 5. I often start writing in my head and when I get to the point I might forget how I want to convey a particular point, I move to paper or the word processor software on my computer. Recently, as you might know, I have been working hard on my Garden Club website with blog posts and school to home connection posts. Although, I feel I am writing for my audience of students and families, I am also very much writing just for myself! The writing is something I enjoy just for me. It gives me a sense of accompishment. What Chris told you is true. You have control of the writing and the posting. You can write and not post or choose to post. It is the writing which is important. I have always thought of it as a catharsis of some type.

    As far as DRAFTS go, I have many….some dating as far back as when I worked as a PNP and found an ovarian tumor in a teenage girl! Some are stories I started when the boys ere young, and some are more recent stories that I have yet to finish. Maybe I will finish them, and maybe I won’t.
    It is up to me.

    Another reason I write is to role model the process to students (you know, my writer’s circle ). The writing I do for that is quicker, and simpler but no less important. I need to show them I am a writer too and not just asking them to do something for me. We are doing it together, experiencing the process together! So, when we wrote Dr. Seuss-type stories with only 50 words, I wrote one too. When we do Haiku or Color Poems, I write one too.

    Despite what process you choose or use, I would strive to remember that you are writing for yourself first, and control the posting/sharing of your work, as you desire. As long as you are writing, you don’t have to share anything! Although, I do think the desire to share and seek approval for our writing is another driving force in authors.

    Keep at it, Peg. I really liked this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Julie July 16, 2015 / 11:10 am

    My hand slipped and hit “post comment” before I was finished. I was going to say that I love the story of your dad typing your papers. And thank you for the symphony – I love the sound of a manual typewriter, too. It sounds so productive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peggyricewi July 16, 2015 / 2:06 pm

      My daughter was Millie in her high school production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. One of the favorite scenes was the percussion/typewriter/tap dancing scene in the song The Speed Test. In this production of it, my daughter’s closest friend, a wonderful dancer, was center stage with other girls all around her, each seated at a desk with a typewriter on it. This friend tapped that part of the song, with the other girls joining as a tapping chorus. It was such fun, and a delightful memory!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Julie July 16, 2015 / 2:11 pm

        It sounds fun, would love to have seen it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Julie July 16, 2015 / 10:51 am

    For me it’s number 4. I read something or hear something or have a conversation with my daughter that gets me thinking. I mull it over and then, usually while I’m chopping and dicing,my thoughts come together. So I sit down quick, before I forget, type it up and post it. I never have any drafts.

    I always proofread before I hit publish, but it never fails that I miss something – or a lot of somethings – that I catch when I read the published version. If WordPress keeps track of the updates, then they likely think I’m an updating maniac.

    Liked by 1 person

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