I’ve always enjoyed writing, which is a pretty big part of the reason I have a blog. In my teens I wrote a ton of stories, and I always thought I would grow up to be a writer, or at the very least, an English teacher. I write a lot for my day job, which is nice because writing complements my design skills and makes me a well-rounded creative professional. I’m currently working on writing a story (not sure if it’s going to be a short story or a novel), but that’s on the back burner as I work on research for my MFA thesis. I’m hoping to have enough research put together to at least help a friend co-author a paper within the year.
I don’t typically talk about writing on the blog because I don’t really consider what I do over here “writing” per say. Really, it’s just me thinking out loud in a conversational tone. My friend Katie asked me to participate in a writer’s blog hop, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk a little bit about my writing process.
1. What am I working on/writing?
Currently I’m working on collecting thoughts for a story. I don’t have enough going on to talk about it, other than that it’s a rom-com with potential sci-fi influences and I’m thinking of Zooey Deschanel’s and Chris Pratt’s on-screen personas when creating my main characters. This is just a pie-in-the-sky idea that I may or may not work on, but I put thoughts on a few pages, so we’ll see where it goes.
In actuality, I’m writing a butt-load of recruiting brochures for work. We have a ton of different majors and we’re in a re-design phase, which includes writing fresh copy.
I haven’t started writing anything for my thesis, other than general notes. I don’t really have a clear direction yet, but I’m starting to get there.
Finally, as an exercise, I’m writing down 10 ideas a day. These ideas range from things I can accomplish that day, to things no human may ever accomplish. I have a notebook dedicated just to that process. The simple act of forcing myself to write down ideas — especially when there aren’t any top-of-mind ideas — seems to make me more creative. The goal is no judgement, just write down ideas!
You might recognize the cover of my journal. It’s a painting that I cut up and made it into the cover of a little homemade perfect-bound book.
2. How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
This question is interesting because I write for quite a few different mediums and genres. I definitely don’t think my blog fits into a specific genre. For a while I was crafty, then I was into healthy living. I always infuse my personal interests in this blog because that’s what I use this blog for: a personal interest journal.
I would say that my writing for marketing and academia is a bit different than other academic writing because I try to put a bit of personality into it. I also try to avoid using a lot of the academic buzzwords.
Also, I think my writing on my blog, on social media, and for academic purposes is brutally honest. I’m not afraid to point out ideas I disagree with, or mistakes. I’m also not afraid to talk about stuff that nobody wants to touch. I took a graphic design seminar on mapping last spring and we had to research “invisible stories” told with mapping. I looked at racist naming conventions based on the location, looking to find some locations more racist than others based on the names of locations on their maps.
I’m also quite loquacious, which is a fancy word for “wordy”. I’m working on writing better, but that comes with practice, and honestly, through a lot of reading. I write a lot, so I try to break things up into smaller, more digestible chunks of text.
3. Why do I write what I do?
When I have an idea, or when I’m really excited about something, I tend to write it out. That’s kind of how blogging started for me. I was training for a marathon and wanted to write about my training to keep up momentum.
Wednesday’s post is a good example of me getting excited about something and writing it out. I find that I have to re-edit some of my initial writings because they’re very reactive, and some involve me being mad at another party (which is fine, but the world doesn’t ALWAYS need to know — it’s not professional of me to air all my dirty laundry). Wednesday’s post was originally about how pissed I was that somebody stole a design of mine (a design that I’m no longer even using), but I realized that I could turn the negative into a positive by offering advice to other professionals on how to avoid that situation.
4. How does my writing process work?
My writing process truly depends on what I’m writing.
If I’m working on quick, creative writing (like the blog), I:
- Type it out directly in the browser window.
- Preview and read it. I don’t just read it in the writing pane because the text looks different on my blog’s theme. I make sure I have an appropriate amount for the line-length.
- Give it a good edit or two.
- Sometimes if I am working on a particularly touchy subject matter and I want to look the most credible as possible, I send the post to a friend or two to edit before posting.
I’m not going to lie. Because I have advertising, I’m required to post a certain number of blog posts a week. This doesn’t really jive with me anymore as I’m busy and don’t have time to write posts, and I do not see the value in pooping out a blog post just to say “I wrote three posts this week!”, so I may look into removing the advertising. When I “poop out a post” I typically start with the images (usually from my iPhone) and craft some text around them.
When I work on marketing pieces, I:
- Pull together source materials with facts and figures and any draft text from clients.
- Put those things in an order that works.
- Make sure the text fits the designed area — I’m a designer, and I usually design first and then write.
- Edit the text for clarity and style.
- Make the text speak actively and directly to the audience.
When I work on longer-term projects (such as a paper, my thesis, and that story I mentioned), I:
- Create a folder on Google Docs where I dump all pertinent reference material.
- Create a document in that folder for all notes and thoughts. This document is never edited, but is referenced frequently.
- The notes document is for raw thinking.
- I always date each entry in the notes document so I can reference what was happening in my life at that time that may have caused me to think a certain way.
- Start spreadsheets to keep track of references when necessary. I currently have a list of nearly 200 (and counting) reference materials for my thesis — most of which I need to actually read.
- Write SEVERAL drafts.
- The first draft is more of a map that pulls reference material in from other sources, and is composed of very rough ideas. I end up scribbling all over this draft and moving things around.
- My second draft is typically hand-written, double-spaced on lined notebook paper to allow for easy editing with — you guessed it — a red pen. I am a print person. I write best by hand and then edit on screen. This makes for a little bit of extra work for me on the front end, but ultimately my writing is so much better when I write it out by hand first. I think there’s something about the connection between the pen in my hand and my creative brain that just isn’t there when I’m typing on the computer. I have the same thing when it comes to design: I’m much better off if I can sketch things out, or even paint, collage, or draw things before going into the computer. I almost decided to research this phenomenon (to see if the case is the same for a younger, more digital generation), but I think we need another 10-15 years before we can see solid evidence of people being paralyzed without their digital devices, rather than emboldened to create.
- Enlist a friend to read the final draft, and of course, SPELL CHECK.
That’s all I’ve got for you. Hopefully you learned some helpful tips to aid you in your writing process. I find the most helpful tool for writing is actually reading books. You pick up so much by immersing yourself in the medium you’re attempting to create.
Here is who is participating in this writing blog hop next week:
Kelly L. is a writer, photographer, daydreamer, blogger, designer, cat lady, jewelry addict, baker, recovering perfectionist, stealer of pretty french fries, lover of pretty things and geeky humor, and is a fellow Iowa girl. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter. Kelly also happens to be one of my best friends and has written a post or two for this blog over the years. I hope she doesn’t mind that I stole this image from her Instagram. She just got glasses and bangs, and she is totally adorable with them!
Do you write? Do you have any tips for writers?
One additional tip I have is to try to stretch your chops every once in a while by writing something different. I started writing three-sentence book reviews to do just that. It’s amazing how much you can pack into short sentences.