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Monday, February 20, 2017

The resting process

Last time I wrote about letting your words rest before publishing them. While that's still true, some of the resting involves a lot of work. Here's a typical timeline for my blog posts.

Five days before deadline, and immediately after hitting save: Finishing my blog post feels great. I think it's a good one!

One minute later: Oh no, I forgot to put in that great story about how my cat once wrote a haiku, and placed higher than I did in a poetry contest. So after adding the story, I read it again and realize it's now too long and need to take out something. But every word is a gem, there's no way I can delete anything and maintain the integrity of my writing.

Five minutes later: Did I spell the name of my old professor correctly? I look it up online, and realize both the name of the professor and the department are wrong, so I correct them.

One hour later: I happen to read an article about tense changes. I edit for consistency.

Four days before deadline: Oh no, I repeat myself in paragraphs one and three, and condense them, which takes care of the word-count problem. As I'm reading for the fifteenth time, I notice many of the sentences are about the same length, so I adjust them to make some shorter and others longer to improve variety while maintaining flow.

Three days before deadline: This is the worst thing I've ever written. I never should have become a writer.

Two days before deadline: Friend wins writing prize in a contest that I also entered. I feel like a failure.

One day before deadline: Open computer to read the article, but instead open Netflix (accidentally) to watch a movie about writer who finds a new, successful career in the wine industry.

One hour after the movie: Search for new career in the wine industry.

Two hours after the movie: Realize that a new career won't work, decide to eat some cookies and binge watch something more uplifting, but can't decide, so scroll through Facebook posts.

Deadline day, morning: Re-read article and decide that my main idea is not consistent and two paragraphs contradict each other.

Deadline day, afternoon: While teaching thesis statements at school, realize I need to follow my own advice and get rid of everything that doesn't support the main idea. Duh!

Deadline day, evening: Assign a symbol to each paragraph by topic. I have three symbols. Determine which message is most effective.

Deadline day, late evening: Put symbol paragraphs together and delete those that don't support that topic/have that symbol. Somehow, it works. Finishing my blog post feels great. I think it's a good one!

What's your resting process?

Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and an adjunct professor at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges.


  1. Mary--At least your timeline sounds like a writer's... professional... focused.

    Mine would have lots and lots of digression.

    (And your posts are always so spot-on, it's hard to imagine you doubt them.)

  2. Ha! I love this. I don't give myself enough of a resting process. But maybe that is not such a bad thing.

  3. Sioux and Margo, I may need to come up with a new word for "resting," and I guess every writer has his or her own process. Mine is just a little more embarrassing!

  4. Mary, you have just perfectly described my writing process. No wonder it takes me a month to write a paragraph!


  5. Thanks for the laugh! And it's probably why I have three unpublished manuscripts on my hard drive! Hmm . . .


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