Posted by: Kate | October 6, 2008

The Process of Words

Walk me through the process.  You sit down at your computer, press buttons and click to get it going, check your email, and eventually wander over to your blog’s control panel.  You click on “New Post,” and face an open box, just waiting for your words, wit or wisdom.

How do you start?  How do you pick the words?

Most days, I have a reasonably clear idea of what I’m going to write before I sit down.   Sometimes I have the first few sentences in mind, other times it’s just a braod topic.

Some days, I sit and stare at a blank screen for a while, and then I click over to an email I save in the “Drafts” folder of my gmail account, which contains a list of post ideas for the days when I’m particularly brain-dead.  If you notice a string of rather heavy, intense posts followed by something that is deliberately more lighthearted, chances are good that I’ve grabbed something out of my topics list, just to prevent things from getting entirely Eeyore around here.

(After having accidentally erased it once, I keep a somewhat outdated copy of it in my WordPress drafts, as well.  I hate, hate accidentally deleting things.  I have a specific, unique fit of rage that occurs whenever I screw technology up, or more to the point, when it screws me up.)

And every once in a while, like Friday, I sit down with a comparatively planned-out post in my head, and my heads take over and type out something else altogether.  My guess is that my brain feels a need to purge itself of select ideas, and it’s certainly true that once I have been able to write something out, I can usually let it go and free up some mental space.  Now and again, my subscious takes over and chooses an altogether unsuspected flow of ideas.

It made me wonder, after being somewhat surprised to read my own post on Friday, whether everyone else is more prone to planful posting, or if other people make it up as they go along, too.

So?  What’s your process?  Enlighten me.



  1. I always write a draft ahead of time. I feel sometimes that if I continue editing my blog draft, on MS Word, I’ll never post it. As it is, I often go back to edit after it’s posted. I only post once a week, so that gives me time to get my photos and text somewhat organized. As for my motivation–it usually comes from my photos or an experience that particularly impacted me. I feel that blogging helps me grow as a writer. I have a long way to go.

  2. While I often know in advance what general topic or event I’m going to post on, and occasionally have a phrase in my head that’s begging to be written down, I deliberately never draft before I sit down to blog. For me, that would be antithetical to the whole point of blogging (a word I really hate, btw), which is to get away from having to be so painfully crafted in my writing. Oh, sure, I go back and tweak posts, sometimes ad nauseum, but if I’m going to craft something, as in multiple drafts, I’m going to hope someone will pay me for it.

    So I’ve found that what comes out is a different voice than my “crafted” one — and it’s one I’m starting to like and get quite comfortable with.

    I too have some snibbets of potential posts floating around, things that seem like good topics but that haven’t yet taken solid hold of me – I might write a sentence or two and then discover there’s nothing else that’s ready to come out. So I save it, and hope the muse will return.

    Great question!! I’m for sure going to check back and see what everyone else says…

  3. I don’t often plan in advance. Blogging for me is pretty in-the-moment. At least a quarter of my posts actually started as comments to someone else’s post.

  4. I rarely sit down to a blank screen with absolutely no idea what I’m going to post. I usually have at least an inkling of a topic/feeling/event that I want to explore. Sometimes it flows out so fast that my horrible typing cannot keep up – and those are usually my best posts. Other times I start in one place and end up entirely somewhere else.

    My posts often start as comments to another blogger, when I know after a few sentences I have much more to say on a subject than is polite to post as a comment. Other times I’ll have a terrific idea, write the first sentence and have nowhere to go from there. That’s why there are fifty drafts in my dashboard. I’ll write an idea, or a title, or a link that I want to explore when I have the time or inclination. Some should probably be deleted, as my anger or other emotion that triggered the post has dissipated, but I don’t.

    Perhaps one day soon I’ll do a post of snippets from those abandoned ideas…

  5. I kinda suck as a blogger, since I really suck as a writer. In a perfect world, my posts would be planned moments of brilliance. As it is, I seem to only post when I have something knitting-related to say. Granted, my blog started as a knitblog, so adhering to that theme is consistent, if often boring, but I would love to be able to just write more often about the “stuff” that floats around in my head, be it planned out ahead of time, or done on the fly.

  6. I keep a notebook for my train rides and jot post ideas down in it. But I usually just have an ongoing list (in my brain) as to what I want to write about.
    And my family provides so much fodder on a daily basis that I sometimes have to pick and choose. Seriously. I think my new tag line should read, “Because you can’t make this shit up.”

  7. I often write something during the day as it comes to mind and post later that evening. Alternatively, a program I’ve watched or a conversation I’ve had will see me dropping everything (burning dinner) to get my idea up before it fades. I don’t plan, rarely edit and until recently didn’t spell check. . .I’m your stream of consciousness type. Planning was never a strong point!

  8. I have the gmail list of post ideas too! And some of the things on it are nonsensical, like “chicken on a stick,” and I look at it and go, huh?

    I too never draft–I started blogging to write in a voice that’s different from my usual work. And I know this is weird, but when I started, I wanted my posts to be really boring. Like, I didn’t want to feel any pressure to entertain, because that kills. I just wanted to just say my thing. I think peoples’ relationships to their blogs are interesting–“Our Blogs, Ourselves,” I guess.

  9. I usually have an array of topics floating in my brain and something will surface when I sit down. Other times, it’s much easier, as when I write about something currently happening in my life.

    I have my “blank” moments too. I should probably start some sort of list here (gmail, word, whatever).

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