My Writing Process

I’ve gotten a few emails asking about my writing process, now that I write every day. It’s changed quite a it since last time I wrote about this, so it’s probably about time for an update.

I use ResophNotes, which is very similar to Notational Velocity on Mac. Leo uses Notational Velocity, and when I saw his process I immediately went looking for the windows equivalent. Both of these applications have the same basic view: a list on the left of all your documents, and a big writing area on the right. This is really useful if you have a backlog of posts, because it allows you to quickly browse through your stock and see what you’ve got.

So every morning, pretty shortly after I wake up, I open up Resoph and begin writing. I don’t set a time limit or a word count, but an average would be around 800 words in 25 minutes. Eight hundred words is a pretty substantial post, and twenty-five minutes isn’t much of a daily sacrifice. If you aren’t used to writing or aren’t a good typist, it may take you longer, but you’ll improve as you go. I’ve found that it usually feels like a lot longer than twenty-five minutes. The only reason I believe its that short is because I time myself every day.

I aim to write a really good post, but if it’s just not happening, I don’t worry about it too much. As long as I try, I’m happy. When I’m done, I append a star rating to the end of the title, along with some notes. A bad post might be **, a great one might me ****, and very often I’ll write something like “***.5 – could be better with some editing”. I do this to make my life easier when it’s time to post something to the blog… just scan for a good rating, give it a quick edit, and post.

One interesting note– I’ve found that my mood towards writing and my opinion of my topic-of-the-day have only a moderate correlation on the quality of the post. Some that I’m excited to write and think will be really good end up being mediocre, and other times I write something as a throwaway, just to get the task done, and it turns out to be one of the best. You really never know, which underscores the value of writing a lot.

During the day, or sometimes during writing, I’ll come up with a good idea for a future post. When that happens, I create a new document in Resoph and append two stars to the beginning of the title. Right now I have one called “**Good Morning”. Then in the body I write some notes and ideas for the post, just a few sentences. I used to just write the title, but I found that I’d often come around to it and forget why I thought it was such a good idea. The hardest part of writing every single day is coming up with good topics, so being diligent about capturing ideas helps a lot and takes some of the pressure off.

Last, once I post something, I add three zs to the beginning of the title to sink it to the bottom of the list. So this one is now “zzz – My writing process”. This, again, gives me a clearer view of what’s available when it’s time to post.

Having a nice friction-free writing process enables you to easily stick to the habit of writing daily. I sit down, pick from one of my topics, hammer out a post without any pressure, and then go on with my day. On Sunday and Wednesday nights, I pick one and queue it up in SETT. Easy.


I’m always up for suggestions for posts, by the way. Let me know what you want to read.

Photo is of the Vienna room at the Met. It would be a good place to write a daily blog post.

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