If you have been following along on the latest blog tour you have probably been as equally fascinated as I in regards to the unique methods of some of the best writers in the Petosphere. Always eager to glean as much knowledge as I can from my blogging heroes, I have been reading every entry I find. As if I will somehow discover the map to their brilliance and be able to follow it myself. Alas, it does not work that way. Though learning from the experiences of others is useful, the only substantial thing I have found is that I will have to make my own trail, bushwhacking and dodging flying monkeys as I go.
Once I finished pouting over the unfairness of it all, I was honoured by an invitation from Kol’s Notes to join the tour myself. It took me a week to realize this meant I could no longer be a bystander, watching the parade and hoping to snag a piece of tossed candy. Suddenly, I had to climb on to a float and give out my own bon bons.
The thought was daunting, nay, paralyzing. What do I have to offer with my meager attempts at stringing words together? One would think after publishing 873 posts I would have more to contribute. I am ashamed to say, my writing process – if I even have enough hubris to call it that – is not the structured I’d like it to be. It’s not even a process, more of a thing I do when I have a few minutes or when there is a deadline looming. However, if I can help someone else then I will air my humiliating secrets. Perhaps you can learn something from my laziness, or at least feel better about your own valiant efforts.
How I manage to spit words out, all of your questions answered here, or something:
Question #1: What are you working on?
This is an excellent question. Unfortunately, I have a less than stellar answer. At least it is short?
Nothing. That is to say, nothing other than putting words on the page. There is no larger project, no higher goal, than the simple act of writing itself. I do have hope that some larger scheme will inspire me if I keep on with it. Thus far, all I do is trudge away at it, putting in my 100 words, trying not to worry about anything else.
I am not sure that I ever had a prime directive for this space. The idea was to keep a record, to connect with others, and to seek solace in personal reflection. Writing things down made me feel better about them.
One thing I know for sure is that I am happier when I am writing. I am forced to acknowledge the distinct differences in my outlook on life when I compare the weeks I let myself slide and the weeks I make myself to keep on. Even if nothing comes of it, this act brings me joy. For that reason alone I must continue. My sanity is worth it.
Question #2: Why do you write what you do?
These days I write what I am thinking about. Sometimes it is something that happened to me, sometimes it is something I read, and sometimes it is something else entirely. I tend to spew whatever is most sticking in my mind. Often it relates to life with Shiva, but not always.
I started blogging as early as 2000, in the early days when Livejournal was still cool and required a special invitation. Given my propensity to get bored with a project after its early stages, I opened many LJ accounts and then abandoned them all one by one. When Blogger was a thing, I started an account there, and then left that behind too. The same with several attempts at WordPress. It was all too much like work, too much like journaling, and I never had a sense of community. For the most part, I kept my writing attempts to a private notebook.
Pet blogging was quite different. Instead of a chore, it was fun to share pictures and chat about the silly things my dog did. It was also much easier to connect with others. While I was always shy to comment on other personal blogs, I felt less vulnerable leaving a cheerful note about another blogger’s dog or cat. The more I commented, the more I got to know others in the community and the more I read, the more I wanted to share my own stories.
I suppose this is my long-winded way of saying I write about my dog because it is fun and because it has led to other positive opportunities. It has also allowed me to experiment with other forms of writing in a way I feel comfortable. Shiva remains my main inspiration but she is no longer the only source. I am still trying to figure out how they all can be combined.
Question #3: How does your writing process work?
Um… Writing process? You mean where I sit down and type letters on the screen? Is there supposed to be more to it than that?
Perhaps it will be easiest if I follow the lead set by Kol’s Notes and break it into steps.
Step the first: Inspiration
I go for a walk. Yep. That’s it. Away from distractions, with only Shiva to tear me from my thoughts, walking is crucial for the idea process. The only trouble with this lies in the fact I never have a way to write anything down. I have to rely on my memory to retain all of the genius sentences I come up with during my perambulations. I should probably start carrying a notebook but I have enough in my pockets, what with poop bags and treats and keys.
I do find Evernote is a fantastic program for keeping track of thoughts. Of course, I have to have my phone with me to take advantage of this application. Which I never do during my chief idea-seeking wanderings.
I never said I knew what I was doing.
Step the second: Preparation
Okay, so, this isn’t really a step since I don’t do much planning in advance. There have been times where I have needed to do a bit of research. Often I utilize the skills I developed while writing history papers and research while I go. This isn’t ideal. I don’t recommend it.
While Jodi of Kol’s Notes recommends the Italian countryside, I find the hills and valleys of Canada have just as much to offer. Why travel when you can get a lovely burst of creativity at home? The Okanagan Valley is my new favourite destination and I highly recommend a little Therapy in advance of your next writing experiment. It did wonders for me.
Step the third: Execution
I sit down and start typing. Sometimes quickly, sometimes excruciatingly slow. Sometimes on my blue chair, sometimes on a camping chair, sometimes on the floor. I always sit and I always type.
My preferred method is to write by hand with a pen and paper. It feels more natural and is closer to the practice of my childhood. Typing is faster, however, and there is no way I will bother to type something I have written by hand. Is there a computer program out there that automatically does this? You’d think there would be.
The time of day changes. I used to write in the mornings before going to work. It is still my best time of day. My current schedule does not allow it, unless I am willing to get up earlier than five-thirty, which I am not, at the moment.
These days I write at night, shortly after Shiva and I return from our walk. This way the ideas are still gurgling. Unfortunately, this timing can also lead to bitter diatribes and emotional rants, as I haven’t given myself the chance to digest anything before putting it out there. What can you do?
Step the fourth: Editing
I tend to edit as I go, an arresting and somewhat inhibiting habit, but it works well for me. It is hard for me to write a sentence without re-thinking every word. Reading a troublesome line out loud helps me figure it out before moving on.
Before I hit publish, I try to read through every post at least once. Often I forget in my elation at finishing and find myself reading through and making changes after the article has already gone live. Oops.
Editing is actually my favourite part. I love chopping words and fixing errors in punctuation. It’s the same feeling I get when I throw out old things around the house; it can be liberating and almost always makes the post better. I rarely make the time to do it in any serious fashion. Something else I need to work on.
So yeah… That’s the insight into my, er, writerly process.
You are wowed, aren’t you? I thought so.
According to the rules of the Official Tour, I am now to tag several other bloggers and make them divulge all of their juicy secrets.
Lauranne of 25 Castles on 25 Clouds is officially up. I bet she will have some terrific advice for everyone. If not, she can at least recommend some good wine.
I am also nominating Ashley of The Accidental Olympian because she needs to write more and may as well do this. Her taste in beverage I am sure is also inspirational.
And as my final nomination I choose Kelly of Tails of Insanity. I can’t speak for her beverage choices, she probably drinks Diet Coke while she blogs, but she is another who needs to write more often. Hopefully this will be the commitment she needs.
If you made it to the end of this very long-winded beast, you have my congratulations. I hope you found something that helped you. If nothing else, you now know an excellent wine to try.