The resting process

Monday, February 20, 2017
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.


Sioux Roslawski said...

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.)

Margo Dill said...

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

Mary Horner said...

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!

Pat Wahler said...

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


Renee Roberson said...

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 And it's probably why I have three unpublished manuscripts on my hard drive!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

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