Going Meta: Writing About My Writing Process

Going Meta: Writing About My Writing Process

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My Writing ProcessI’ve always enjoyed watching visual artists produce their craft. There’s something fascinating about watching a painter paint or a sculptor sculpt.

Not so much with writing.

“Look at that, she typed a sentence! Check out how she keeps hitting ‘delete’ over and over again!”

But while the physical action doesn’t seem that exciting, the mental process can be really interesting. That’s why I’ve enjoyed following the recent “blog hop” going around the blogosphere in which writers write about their writing.

The amazing Jennifer Barbour from About Jennifer recently posted about her inner workings and then invited me to join in. So here goes!

Also, I’m tagging Wendy from New Moms Talk and Abby from Fearfully Made Mom. We’d love to read about your writing processes! 

Why do I write what I do?

I generally engage in three different types of writing, and I do each for different reasons.

Grant writing

Grant writing is my bread and butter. I stumbled upon it in graduate school (I have a master’s degree in Women’s Studies) as a way to combine my love of writing with my desire to work in the nonprofit sector. I’ve written tons of grant proposals—to federal government agencies, state departments, corporate foundations, and family trusts.

Why do I do it? For the money, of course! Not for my own wallet, but for the nonprofit’s budget. The grant dollars I’ve secured have always been for worthy projects aimed at making people’s lives and communities better.

Magazine Writing

I’ve recently started writing for some regional magazines, and I love it. I enjoy the more conversational tone I can use (which is the total opposite of grant writing) and the variety of subjects I can explore.

I also really like conducting interviews; we writers can risk isolating ourselves, so getting out there with my notepad and recorder, journalist-style, is really invigorating. Overall I find magazine-style writing to be refreshing—the perfect middle ground between professional and casual.

Blogging

While this blog is relatively new, I’m not new to blogging. For several years I wrote a blog called Health for the Whole Self, in which I explored healthy living from a comprehensive standpoint—body, mind, and spirit. I also wrote a lot about my struggles with body image and disordered eating, and published an e-book of concrete strategies for overcoming emotional eating.

While the subjects of my two blogs may be different, my two-fold motivation for writing them is the same: I get to write about whatever suits my fancy, and I get to form relationships with those reading my words.

That, my friends, is what makes blogging cooler than any other writing platform out there.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

For this question I’ll focus on my blog writing. I think Pick Any Two is different from other blogs because it has a good mix of practical content (like when I wrote about the best advice I received for baby’s first year) and stream-of-consciousness personal musings (like my open letter to laziness).

There are lots of blogging experts out there who say you should only have one or the other, and maybe they’re right. But for me, I prefer the blend. I like that I can write about a new research study on healthy eating one day, and reflect on the combination of faith and motherhood the next.

How does my writing process work?

Like most writers, I get ideas all the time, in all locations. To keep them straight, I have a running list of ideas on my Evernote app, divided into categories like parenting, healthy living, and self-improvement. You can often find me dashing out of the shower or stopping mid-jog to open up the app and type an idea.

After that stage, though, I am a planner—in life and in writing.

I usually don’t just sit down and see what comes to me; I plan out my points, my lists, my paragraphs. Because of that, I’m actually a really fast writer. Since most of the legwork is done in the planning stages, by the time I’m actually writing I already know exactly what I’m going to say, and my fingers just fly across the keyboard.

I’m also a very kinesthetic writer. By that I mean that I think and write best while in motion—maybe not my whole body but at least some part of me. This might seem odd, but I tend to doodle whenever I’m stuck or need a mental recharge between paragraphs. I almost always write with a notepad and pen beside me for scribbling.

What am I working on?

Grant Writing

At the moment I’m working on three projects: a state grant to support a summer tutoring program for underserved youth; a foundation proposal to support my local Girls on the Run program; and general research on grant opportunities to help survivors of sexual abuse. It’s a whirlwind, in the best way!

Magazine Writing

I recently finished up two articles for regional publications on the subjects of backyard entertaining and master bathroom upgrades, and I’m currently writing an article on common foot and leg problems for women (think heel pain and spider veins). I’m also hoping to pitch some regional parenting magazines soon!

Blogging

At this point my blogging goal is simply to keep writing interesting content and build up my readership. I recently applied to join the BlogHer Publishing Network and was turned down (which, I won’t lie, was a major disappointment, as I worked with them successfully on my previous blog). So I’m also on the lookout for other advertising possibilities. I’ve heard Adproval is a good connection tool, but I’m open to suggestions!

When/where do you get your best writing ideas? Anyone else a “kinesthetic writer” like I am? 

 image via leocub on freeimages

31 Comments

  1. The Dose of Reality
    May 21, 2014 @ 09:42:36

    We keep an Evernote account for filled with our writing ideas, too! Like you, we don’t limit our blog to one thing. Sometimes we go serious, sometimes we give personal musings, sometimes we just get silly. It’s more fun to mix it up (no matter what the experts say!)
    I have GOT to download your e-book. I will always need help with emotional eating! AWESOME!! –Lisa

    Reply

  2. Angela Gilmore
    May 21, 2014 @ 12:52:41

    I usually get the best ideas on the go, and I usually have no place to put the ideas down. I recently bought a tablet and have already written two posts on it, so I think I may have found my perfect vehicle. I really like the structure of your site, I like that each day I don’t know what to expect in your content and it always turns out that I am always interested in what you are writing. And somehow it always seems to blend from one post to the next. You have a unique voice and it translates whether you are talking about something technical or something personal.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 21, 2014 @ 13:57:27

      Thank you, Angela! That really means a lot to me!

      Reply

  3. Kerry
    May 21, 2014 @ 13:06:44

    Love getting a glimpse into your world. I don’t know much about the grant writing world, but I always wanted to learn more as a potential source of income. I think my writing process is similar – I am often planning stories in my head and even constructing opening lines before I sit down to write. I went to school for journalism, so I learned to write quickly. What I need to spend more time on is editing. 🙂

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 21, 2014 @ 13:58:31

      Me too. I’m a dedicated proofreader but not a great editor. I get too attached to my work, I think.

      Reply

  4. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas
    May 21, 2014 @ 14:43:45

    I admire your organization, Katie! I used to have a process, but ever since Elliette was born and I left the office, I’ve been battling with some pretty harsh depression and anxiety that have really made organization a challenge. Writing is a real struggle for me amidst the chaos, but I’m trying to put some strategies in place that will help. Editing is actually a lot easier than full-on writing at the moment, so I wish I had more of it to do!

    Current projects include my blog (and transitioning its focus), doing social media for some small businesses, and writing on a weekly basis for some larger clients, including my old employer, and a personal project just for me. I definitely have some other goals in mind, but I can’t complain right now!

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 21, 2014 @ 15:24:33

      Wendy, I can only imagine trying to write while battling anxiety and depression. When I was in the midst of my worst anxiety, writing anything coherent was out of the question. It sounds like you have lots of wonderful things going on right now, though!

      Reply

  5. Dana
    May 21, 2014 @ 15:16:17

    I was tagged in this too – I love reading about other writers’ processes! I keep a list of post ideas in Evernote too, but I write in a very unplanned way – not like me at all. I really need to set aside time to write, but I find that if I do that, I choke up under the pressure.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 21, 2014 @ 15:23:23

      That happens to me too sometimes!

      Reply

  6. tamaralikecamera
    May 21, 2014 @ 20:32:08

    I studied magazine writing in college and it is by far my favorite, and what I think works most best with my type of writing. They called my writing creative nonfiction back in the day! I wasn’t so good at fiction, actually.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 22, 2014 @ 09:29:14

      Yep, I’m a creative nonfiction gal as well!

      Reply

  7. Tara Newman
    May 21, 2014 @ 20:45:31

    I have been really enjoying reading about everyone’s writing process. Some many unique characteristics yet so similar. I use evernote but I don’t separate by category. It all goes into the blog notebook and once written goes to blog archive. I am a notebook and tag minamalist.

    Reply

  8. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life
    May 21, 2014 @ 20:49:17

    I have a notebook that I write down ideas in. I have been putting off writing about my process even though I was tagged a bit ago. Typical…that is my process…by the seat of my pants!

    Reply

  9. another jennifer
    May 21, 2014 @ 22:46:30

    See, this is why I tagged you! So interesting that you doodle while you write. I may actually try this! I’m also a big fan of Evernote for keeping track of ideas. Thanks for sharing, Katie. Would love to hear more about your magazine writing.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 22, 2014 @ 09:28:24

      Thanks for tagging me! Now I’m thinking I should do a follow up post about how I broke into magazine writing.

      Reply

  10. Wendy
    May 22, 2014 @ 08:01:30

    Can you give me a day or week to respond, please?

    Despite the nature of my current blog post, all are well. (Have I mentioned I have the best mother-in-law for me?)

    I just need to give everything the time and attention it deserves. Maybe after a swim I’ll have time… if Susanna allows and Scott isn’t writing.

    (I love being a Mom-Writer raising a family at home with a Writer-Dad close by!)

    Cheers to all. Thank you for the tag.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 22, 2014 @ 09:26:38

      Of course, Wendy! There’s no timeline!

      Reply

  11. Rabia Lieber
    May 22, 2014 @ 13:13:03

    Thanks for sharing this Katie! I am interested in grant writing. I work with a non-profit locally and we are always looking for grant money. I’m actually considering taking a grant writing class just to get my feet wet.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 22, 2014 @ 15:52:49

      You should! It’s a very different style of writing, similar to academic writing in many ways. Having a good grant writer, either on staff or as a volunteer, is such an asset to a nonprofit!

      Reply

  12. Jean
    May 22, 2014 @ 23:17:14

    This was such an interesting read and it’s easy to see that you’re a planner. The essay was so organized! Thanks for sharing your process- it makes mine look beyond sloppy 🙂

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 23, 2014 @ 07:01:16

      Sloppy is good! The fact that everyone has a different process is what makes these posts so interesting! Thanks for stopping by, Jean!

      Reply

  13. Mary Hill
    May 23, 2014 @ 17:07:32

    Hi, some great ideas here. I am coming off a break and need to revitalize. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  14. Abigail McDonald
    May 25, 2014 @ 11:08:11

    First, I just want to say hang in there, Wendy. I battled depression after the birth of my first son and I know how hard it is. There is hope and although everyone is different, seeing a therapist really helped me work through mine.

    And Katie, thank you for tagging me! Although I don’t have a cut and dry writing process, there are a few things I do. Lately, as a result of a writing class I’m taking online (Compel), I always start my writing by asking myself three questions: 1.) Who am I writing to? 2.) What is a problem they may be facing today? and 3.) What is a possible solution to that problem?

    Basically, I try to grab my reader right away, because if I’m boring them in the first few sentences, they are not likely to continue reading.

    Also, I usually use at least one “sticky statement,” a statement that redirects the readers thinking and gives them one thought they can take away, tweet or share with others.

    Lastly, I always try to remember to pray over my writing and ask God to use it to speak to whoever he wants it to reach and that they be encouraged, inspired, and given hope in whatever difficulty they’re facing.

    Thanks for sharing your writing process, Katie! I loved reading about it. 🙂

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 26, 2014 @ 09:01:03

      Very interesting, Abby! I’m not familiar with Compel yet, but I’ll have to check it out. Love those three questions you ask yourself.

      Reply

  15. Halina
    May 27, 2014 @ 11:23:39

    I haven’t done much grant writing, aside from those I wrote for research funding. Are there any decent online tutorials on the subject of grant writing, especially in the non-profit sector?

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 27, 2014 @ 16:15:17

      I rely heavily on resources from the Foundation Center. Very reputable!

      Reply

  16. Lori Mauger
    May 28, 2014 @ 13:23:02

    I have a story coming out this fall in an educational publication on my “backward” approach to writing. The premise is that it’s empowering to have the end of the work written (or at least drafted) before tackling the rest of the story. The piece is aimed at creative writers, but the method can apply to other areas such as blogging. Often, my best ideas come to me when I’m jogging because it clears my head, and I don’t listen to anything on headphones or bring a cell phone with me while out for a run. Being alone “in my own head” really does the trick. That’s where I got the weird idea to compare puppy training with performing an online search.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 28, 2014 @ 14:04:42

      Which was an awesome idea, I might add! Your backward approach makes a lot of sense to me. Having the ending written takes some of the pressure off, which is good for the creative process.

      Reply

  17. Koren
    May 28, 2014 @ 16:52:52

    Whoa, that idea of being a kinesthetic writer is super interesting! I do find I get a lot of good work done when I happen to be on longish train rides. It’s one of the reasons I often choose trains over planes.

    Reply

  18. spturgon
    May 29, 2014 @ 11:45:52

    The kinesthetic writing is so interesting to me bcz it’s so opposite what I do. When I get stumped, I need to take hands off of things like keyboards and pens. Then I sit and gaze around, tune into what’s happening outside, and just suspend myself for a couple of minutes. Then I usually have to write whatever comes to mind and edit it later – often, that means the majority of that snippet gets deleted, but inevitably a thought or two stays on the page.

    I’m fascinated by the writing process of other people, too. So similar, yet so individual.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 29, 2014 @ 12:27:54

      I think my kinesthetic tendencies are probably connected to the fact that I’m naturally a pretty anxious person. I want to challenge myself to spend more time gazing around and suspending myself like you!

      Reply

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