I am always weary of talking about the way I write. I am no expert and I am pretty sure I am doing every thing wrong. I’d hate to start any one down the wrong path or encourage bad habits. Then again, the way I do things works for me, most of the time, and maybe someone could benefit from hearing what I have to say on the craft. Probably not but I want to share anyway. So, here’s what I do, which is definitely no way to be a writer…
Every morning I wake up and panic about all the writing I wanted to do the day before and haven’t completed. I remember that I have a blogging event that must be posted today, or that is such-and-such holiday which I should comment on, or I decide that whatever I did write is actually crap and went in the wrong direction. It has to be rewritten right now.
I do keep an editorial calendar, which is nothing more than a Moleskine cahier with each page divided in half. Each half is a day where I list everything I need to do, including what to blog about, or what hashtags should be used. I also keep a small pocket notebook for writing down bits of ideas that don’t always have to do with actual posts. Like sidebar widgets I’d like to add or Instagram hashtags I should probably start using.
I’m horrible at sticking to this method and often forget to actually look in the notebooks but it is a hell of a lot better than when I tried to use my phone for notes.
I spend the mornings working my day job which means looking at my phone a lot when I’m not supposed to be. I check Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest for ideas and to stay in the loop about what the kids are doing these days. If I’m lucky there might be an interesting post or tweet that inspires me and I’ll save it and try to make a note in one of my neglected notebooks. I also try to post something to each of these networks myself so my small sampling of followers knows I am still alive.
Or, that is what I am supposed to be doing, more often than not I get sucked in to scrolling Facebook instead which rarely results in anything useful for my writing endeavors.
I am drawn to topics that are philosophical in nature. Anything on the subject of what humans do, why humans do it, and what humans ought to do always piques my interest. I like things that make you feel stuff and make your brain open up. I also like things that are incredibly ordinary or obvious but get over looked. I like quotes and sayings, I like clichés. I like hearing new perspectives, and I like a good rant.
I also like people making a fool of themselves and saying things that were better left unsaid. I like the insight into the hidden ways in which people can be complete jerks. It forces me to consider ethically ambiguous topics I wouldn’t otherwise.
I spend the hours in the middle of the day writing whatever I remembered to write about. I work a split shift so generally from 10 to Noon I am free as long as my boss doesn’t need me. I write at a work computer because it’s easier and maximizes my time. I don’t usually draft much but if I did I usually use WordPress’ draft feature or Evernote. A draft for me means a list of points to cover and links to whatever inspired me. I tend to deviate pretty quickly from what I originally wanted to say and often end up writing another draft or two which includes the new things I thought of.
It’s like fighting a hydra, two more drafts appear whenever I get rid of one. Every so often I get frustrated and scrap the whole thing because my brain won’t cooperate.
I don’t have the luxury of writing where it is quiet. I have people asking me questions, I’m up and down helping coworkers when they need it, I have friends who want to talk about their weekend, or want to share a funny video they saw. I had to learn to write in the chaos of an office environment and I have to write quickly. One thing that has helped is spending the time I can’t write mentally going over what I want to say. This way I can remember how I wanted to say it. Then when I write I can focus more on clarity and flow, and make sure to end my posts well.
After that I work my afternoon shift where I continue stealing glances at my phone on a never ending search for more inspiration and knowledge. Lately, I have been too tired though and do nothing for my writing. I tell myself that I will work on it later at home and that it will be fine. In the back of my mind that panic is already building and the self-doubt sets in that I am actually a horrible writer and I will never be able to do anything with this.
At this point I usually check my blog stats and sigh in relief. They are always better than I think they will be even if they are still shit. On a really good day I get an encouraging comment or two letting me know people hear me and like what I have to say. I do my best to reply to them then.
When I get home I usually text my girlfriend my newest follower count. To which she replies with a ton of happy face emojis and tells me I am “blog famous”. It’s cute because she has no idea that my numbers are pathetic. She tells me she doesn’t care and that I have more followers than people who aren’t trying at all. I tell her she’s right and make another attempt to write something worth sharing. I also watch a lot of educational type YouTube videos while writing to keep myself inspired and thinking.
I also fix myself a drink and play games on my iPad because “I deserve time to relax too”.
Right before bed I check social media again and try to get more ideas. I update Tumblr about my day and I congratulate myself on at least trying. I tell myself that I am getting better and that I can do this. I tell myself that one day it won’t be so hard and I’ll get to spend my whole day writing. I also promise myself that tomorrow I’ll do better. I’ll write better and I’ll write more. I tell myself that I am doing good.
My writing ritual isn’t something I do during just one part of the day. For me writing takes up just about every moment I have to give it. From my first thought in the morning, the mental check list and the feeling of urgency, to the most important part of my writing ritual, the nightly pep talk, the last dose of self encouragement, the act of ending on a high note.
I might not do it all right, or the way that most do, but I do what I can.
I do the best I can.
P.S. On the weekends writing time isn’t a guarantee. I get up early, by about 6 or 7, and write as much as I can throughout the day, which is never as much as I’d like.
Written in response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: The space to write. Part of the assignment is to ask our readers what kinds of posts they’d like to see. Please, please, please, if you have the time, let me know what kind of post you like to see here on Zen and Pi either by leaving a comment or using the contact form below. Thank you!