Thursday, May 07, 2009

Writing an article

I'm working on an article on hydration. Well, taking a break from working on an article about hydration. It occurred to me it might help me make progress if I put my process into words. So yes, this is a self-serving analysis of how one writer writes. Feel free to ignore.

My process has evolved over the years. I never planned ahead what my process would be, but it has come to a pattern that looks something like this.
  1. Pick a topic. Either choose from a question sent by a reader or, if none have come in, pick something timely. Example: health during finals week (last week's topic, published yesterday)
  2. Research a bunch online, using both medical and lay sites. Some of my favorites are NIH and CDC. Copy and print key stuff, or copy and paste into a research doc.
  3. Write a terrible, rambling, ungrammatical verbal vomitage, full of sentence fragments, runons, slang, random unrelated thoughts, anything that comes to mind.
  4. Go away.
  5. Come back to it and look at it. Lo and behold, a flower or two arises from the garbage. Dig out the flowers and transplant them into a new document.
  6. More verbal vomit of ideas I've digested since the last purge.
  7. More garbage gardening.
  8. Leave the stinking pile and move full time to the new document, pruning, filling in, spiffing up.
  9. Go away again, preferably overnight.
  10. Come back, tweak and polish. Done!
At the moment, I'm between Step 2 and Step 3. And this little analysis didn't provide me nearly the procrastination time I was hoping for! Dang. Oh, but that reminds me. I didn't include diversionary tactics, or time wasters, or even legitimate break taking! Just like stretching the body, I need to stretch my mind, my eyes, and my thoughts from time to time. And speaking of hydration, a drink of water is always a good idea, in addition to being a diversionary tactic. In fact, I'm getting thirsty right now...

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