I only plan most of them.

Another installment of the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. Today’s prompt is about writing:

Writing with Style. What’s your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?

Cat keyboard

When they ask about writing style, I’m assuming they mostly mean blog posts rather than for my more involved creative pieces. (For those, handwriting first is a must. And the ideas are much more fluid and organic, at least for a first draft, which is where I let myself go to do what I want. It’s much easier, I always figure to pare down a draft rather than to go back and add more because I was lazy the first time.)

For my blog posts, I would estimate that the majority, though not the overwhelming majority, (maybe 60-70%) are planned to a greater or lesser extent.

Some types of posts — like when I do an anatomy/asana series — are very planned. I try to go fairly methodically though the specific focus, so there’s a definite progression from the beginning of one to the end. Each of those posts requires some amount of research, either into the anatomy or into finding the safest, clearest demonstration video — or occasionally into making a video of my own. Also, not gonna lie — While the timing of those posts does matter with respect to one another, inside each series, they’re all more or less insulated from news and world events. It doesn’t break my heart to be able to slip something in the posting queue that’s going to be just as relevant two or three weeks from now as it is today.

After that, there’s a category of posts — like book and DVD/yoga practice reviews — where the inspiration is… well, inspired, but the post itself is likely to be relatively planned. That is, I never start out with a book or video practice going, “And when I finish, I will write about it.” However, if the urge to share does hit once I finish reading or watching, I generally feel free to look back over parts of it as I structure what I want to say. Occasionally, I do post a review off the cuff, but that’s usually when I know I have too many other life burners going, and so it’s at that “use it or lose it” point. I like to think that readers are generally forgiving of This Was Written Quickly Syndrome, provided:

  1. They know it was written quickly.
  2. There is a baseline of readability even for hastily written posts.
  3. Written Quickly Syndrome does not become an epidemic of the blog.

(Of course, I’m also pretty sure that there are writers out there who produce at a consistent high quality while writing extemporaneously because that’s how their brains work. It is not, however, what works best for me.)

Sliding down the scale, I have a couple of news sources I read regularly. I won’t say they’re for the express purpose of finding blog fodder — because sometimes I just like to know. But I’d be lying if I said I never turned to those feeds for inspiration. I tend to spend less time planning those posts because they usually need to be published faster. It’s not like I don’t know that the Internet has a news cycle — and I can’t read about Relevant Big News Item A, spend all the time I want getting my post just right, and publish it two or three weeks later. Well, I mean, I could do that, but it wouldn’t be nearly as relevant as I’d like it to be. I do not have endless time and spoons to dedicate to writing — and besides, it hurts to sit at my desk for too long — so sometimes relevance must trump craft.

Finally, there is a category of posts that, if I were being kind to myself, I would call primarily cathartic in nature. In plainer English, sometimes I just get pissed and need to write about it. I find these often take the form of imaginary letters or email responses — like this (discussion of rape and rape culture) or this (note for fat-shaming and street harassment). I think these are in the minority because — while some are certainly inspired by humor and glee — a lot of the more substantive ones, at least, come from places of anger or despair. Contrary to how I may come across in various blog posts, I am rarely angry or despairing for long enough to be moved to post from that alone. Even if I were, I’m not sure I’d want to be.

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I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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