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.

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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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