This is not an advice post.
I’ve been thinking about my creative process since a fallout with a writing partner in 2016.
I come to most writing advice with the question, “Is this something that works for me?”
Though my process for fiction is a bit different, this post covers how I write most of the time, specifically for this blog.
This is how I operate.
My blog differs from a “traditional” book blog.
I’m just now getting into book tags, which have been a thing for years, and I’ve gotten away from book reviews.
I appreciate those who review books, but I don’t enjoy writing reviews.
I’m no good at objectivity.
Plus, book and film reviews were recommended to me by people who wanted to “legitimize” my writing.
I’m sick of letting others determine which of my work counts as “real” writing.
I let myself write whatever I want without sticking to a theme.
I try to authentically capture experiences from my own life.
I end up writing about books a lot, but I don’t like to limit myself.
I’ve tried sticking to a posting schedule at different times in my life.
I hate it.
Normally, I work well with deadlines.
For writing, I hate to feel rushed.
Because of this, even though I write almost every day, I publish whenever I want.
I also really hate setting goals. Hard-and-fast book goals or TBR lists don’t motivate me. I’d rather write when the muses move me.
The rest of this post covers my step-by-step process for creating a blog post, starting with the idea phase.
- Come up with a weird idea
- Think about idea constantly
- Jot down orphaned phrases on a sticky note at work
- Hope my coworkers don’t read my sticky note
- Chuckle while picturing a top-notch sight gag or passage in all caps
- Tell myself, “This post is going to be SO funny.”
- Imagine the post going viral
- Tell myself, “It probably won’t.”
- Tell myself, “But it could.”
- Tell myself, “But it won’t.”
- Spend 30 minutes imagining being interviewed on Jimmy Fallon
- Bat original idea around until I have a title and a focus
- Sit down at laptop before work (and sometimes after)
- Drink a giant mug of coffee or tea
- Admire mug for 3 minutes
- Imagine next mug purchase: where, when, what kind, what size
- Remember plan to buy mugs for relatives this year
- Run through entire Christmas list
- Look at clock and get back to writing
- Vomit the half-formed ideas in my head into one post
- Try to connect ideas in order with a theme that makes sense
- Cry because the post lacks a point
- Avoid post for months
- Come back to post later to reread it
- Think of a line that ties everything together
- Write some zingers
- Leave post 90% finished and think, “Eh, good enough.”
- Take out all the passive language
- Take out all the apologies and equivocation
Take out all the swearing
- Put some of the swearing back in
- Reframe ideas in fewer words
- Delete entire paragraphs
- Combine previously disconnected sentences
- Reduce word count by 40%
- Increase word count by 50% to clarify some points
- Reduce word count another 30%
- Think of great quotes that would support my idea
- Debate whether I want to look up the quotes and cite them properly
- Remember a quote from my favorite book
- Look at the bookshelf not four inches away and decide it’s too much work to look it up
- Ponder whether I remember anything about MLA format
- Realize I’ve forgotten everything about APA and will never publish research papers
- Reread post a second time
- Then a third
- Sometimes a fourth, fixing the grammar as I go
- Still miss one or two grammar mistakes in spite of everything I’ve done
- Categorize post under a heading
- Brainstorm appropriate buzzwords
- Choose a decent featured image from free image library
- Hate how blurry it is
- Use Google Safesearch to find images labeled for reuse
- Comment on all the images that pop up that have nothing to do with my search terms: “That’s Jennifer Lawrence. That’s a trawler. That’s cheesecake. That’s the military. That’s a logo. That’s a sports team. That’s Kevin Costner. That’s clipart.”
- Find nothing
- Tweak search terms
- Yell at Pixabay for not allowing hotlinking
- Reconsider free image library
- Find a gigantic, yet hilarious, relevant image
- Change image search size to “icon”
- Find nothing
- Upgrade to “medium”
- Find the same giant images that gave me trouble before
- Pick one and hope for the best
- Forget to change customized message for Twitter
- Type out something hacky that makes me cringe
- Refuse to edit and hope for the best
- Hit publish
- Remember post needs a “Read More” tag
- Edit post
- Determine where to make readers click “Read More”
- Wonder if they want to
- Update post
- Read post on site
- See grammatical errors I missed
- Tell myself I’ll fix them later
- Obsessively check stats at work
- Tell myself, “It’s fine, it doesn’t matter.”
- Keep checking
- Gasp in pleasant surprise at any likes
- Check out followers’ blogs
- Wonder why some followers chose to follow my blog
- Respond to comments (rare)
- On days with fewer views, tell myself it’s not about numbers
- On days with lots of views, anxiously hope for more
- Revisit Jimmy Fallon fantasy
- Tell myself to calm down
- See a post I like on the WordPress reader
- Feel the niggling of a new idea in my brain
- Start back at Theorizing, Step 1