Wednesday, July 30, 2014

how I blog. or write. or let creativity and community define content.

When I started blogging I thought it was about living a BIG, bold life that's staged and perfect for the space I create. I read blogs of women who were traveling the world in designer clothes with adorable husbands. Sometimes they got pregnant and had perfect babies that never drooled or ugly cried. I thought, I'm in college, but I can do this with my cute boyfriend and beautiful city. I tried. Oh how I tried. But it was exhausting, unimpressive, and uncomfortable for me (and my college budget). 

I doubted my joy in approaching this space. I took some time off, I married that boyfriend, I settled into my role as a wife while thinking about what a blog would mean to me now. 

I changed my approach. I simplified (sort of) and reminded myself there's beauty in the every day details. Beauty that translates into larger lessons -my favorites being analogy and metaphor. This wasn't easy and usually frustrating and discouraging. So I did the one thing I'm always good at: read a good book or twelve. And that inspired me. 

It reminded me of how good writing heals, relates, builds richness into our lives. I took note of what made my heart hum, how words can soften my soul, and the inspiration that a beautiful quote, or paragraph, or book can provide for me. In that, I realized that writing process was something I longed to do. Enters: Mr. Thomas & Me.

A few weeks ago Erika prompted me to think on how I write, what I write, and, of course, why. I was flattered because, well, I adore her and her blog, while simultaneously awed at how unaware of my process I am (or at the least, was). So, here's your little peek into what it looks like before that orange Publish button makes my words available for your consumption:

1. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

I'm working on my summer tan, accepting that my body looks beautiful in a bikini regardless of what Victoria's Secret would say, enjoying this time in our marriage as no longer newlyweds but not yet parents. I'm trying to figure out what contentment and relaxation looks like in the context of my life -a task that's proving to be more of a lifelong journey than a destination. 

All those things have nothing to do explicitly with content. Because I don't blog in that way. No editorial calendar, no intense structure, none of that. It stresses me out to have too many rules or confines, so I write about what presses on my heart. Usually that means there's something I just can't shake, I simply can't forget, I think about in the dark of the night. Sometimes it's a pattern where that thing just appears over and over nagging me to address it until I finally listen and it's on the blog. 

Usually that renders peace. At least peace in the way that a community gathers and engages with me and I'm glad I wrote what I did then I wait. I wait for the next nagging idea. 

2. HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

Am I a Christian blogger? A lifestyle blogger? A combination of both? I guess I don't put myself in a genre, not because I'm bigger or better than classification, but because I'm all over the board.

I'm a married woman who loves God, deeply enjoys life, and wants to make a difference in the world, even if only online. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what I'm supposed to write because that hedges me in and stresses me out (hi writer's block). So, how am I different? I guess it's because I'm not.

Different makes people feel important, special. But that's not the only way to be such things. 

I'm important and special because:
  • I'm a wife, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend. 
  • I've decided it's important to be B.R.A.V.E.
  • I'm mourning the slow dying of my dad and loving the lessons it's taught me about living.
  • I rise early to run and stay up late-ish reading books. 
  • I eat popcorn and wine for dinner when Jason goes out with the guys from work. 
  • I love clothes -particularly from Target and American Eagle.
  • I'm happy mowing my lawn, pruning my roses, picking veggies from my garden. 
  • I can't get enough of Instagram and I struggle with Twitter. 
You're important and special in so many of the same ways, yes?

My work is important and special because WE are in it. It's important because it's not about me, as much as it's about us. The way that we say yes I hear you. Or I hurt in the face of loss too. Or that's what I love about life/God/faith/marriage too. It's about the WE, not about me.

I write so we're here understanding, reading, engaging with one another. It's the WE of community that reminds me that I'm important and special, but that I'm not different. Because we share, in loves and hates, in joys and sorrows, in community, we are the same (at least in one or two ways). 

3. WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?

My writing is an emotional exodus. I have all the feelings in rich, deep ways -like a strong cup of Arabica sans sugar and cream. Mostly, I write in a selfish way pouring out all the little pieces in an attempt for the letters to come together to make words that become larger sentences and hopefully create meaning.

Usually all those emotions run through the many filters that make me function: faith, marriage, love, joy. That means that they come out looking like small details crafted into large metaphors because that's how I process, those are my schema (yes, I just went all psychological on you).

However, my goal in writing here is community. A community wrought with sharing and caring.

I believe that the human experience is best when shared, sort of like big Italian family dinners. I believe we love to pass the heaping plates of life around the table, dipping eagerly into steaming dishes of emotion, shouting over one another because there's SO. MUCH. NOISE. when we gather around, complimenting the chef over and over for her hard work and tasty combinations all the while letting our senses soak in the goodness of what's happening right in front of our eyes.

Yes, metaphors, carbohydrates, deliciousness.

4. HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

It's sticky and tricky and sometimes almost painful. Most of my posts come from real life, from what's happening offline, and are then translated here. That means I'm constantly seeking to transform something mundane into a much more beautiful work of words. It's something I'm still working through, hardly successful at, but attempting to be always enjoying.

Enjoyment: that's my process. Be it at the beginning, the middle or the end, I'm trying to find joy in it all. Even the dementia posts, so hard and ugly, leak out some sort of joy -even if just having someone comment to say, this is scary to me too.

Really logistically writing looks like me latching onto some moment (right now it's the produce coming from our garden) and another moment (an article I read on how Americans don't like flawed fruits) then trying to weave them together into a philosophical lesson (flaws make us beautiful). Once those thoughts sit and marinate for a while, Blogger enters, I type, type, type until there's some tangle of words. I visit it four or five times and revise. Then schedule. Publish. Post goes live.

It seems sort of, well, easy when I put it that way.

Writing isn't always easy nor is it always hard. It is always challenging, encouraging, and creative -three things I wish my life (and blog) always to be. Sometimes things -like life or emotions or writer's block- get in the way, and that's where I'm learning what it means to work hard and to give grace. Both of which are valuable and life-giving. 

And now, to pass this little torch of self-awareness (because whoa, I've learned so much about myself) to a few writer-bloggers whose writing process and content creation I'm hankering to know more about:
Kelly at Six One Six
Annie at What She Saw 
Ashley at Brooks Editorial
Brooks at Girl Brooks

If you haven't stopped to think on your writing process, I dare you. I didn't realize how unaware I was of my desire for this space or my process of gleaning content previous to this (not-so) little post. Of course, if you decide to write about it like I did, share it with me! 

18 comments:

  1. My word, this is rich. A love letter to the craft of writing. I love it. Bookmarking and coming back every time I look at the keyboard and feel anything but love for this hobby. Thank you so much for sharing. You have such a gift!

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  2. This is so good I just punched myself in the face.

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  3. My jaw dropped when I read this. Erika is right - this is RICH. You are much, much more than a blogger. You, darling friend, are a writer and an eloquent one at that. My heart always feels full of love after I read your work, like a classic movie that stays with you long after it's over. Please, I am begging you, please, print your blog as a book.

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  4. I loved reading this! Especially the part about your emotional exodus! I feel like I'm always posting more witty banter and outrageous rants that you wouldn't think could be cathartic for me, but they really are! They let me escape the chaos of my every day life, and I am SO grateful for that.

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  5. I read your posts often and have only commented a few times. They are always meaningful and I take away something from them. Just wanted to let you know it's nice to hear another person acknowledge they don't use calendars and write from the heart. Thank you for sharing with others.

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  6. This is so good. I wish I had your drive and creativity. Mine comes in bursts - I'll have a few days of brilliance, never able to get the words on the screen fast enough, then a few days of nothingness. What ever it is you do, keep doing it!

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  7. One of the many, many reasons I love your blog is because you write from the heart. Each post of yours challenges me to think differently, and I love it. I love reading your opinions and your metaphors and how you so eloquently describe the details of your life.

    Also, your writing flows really well, and readers can tell that you put a lot of effort into your posts.

    My writing process is really simple. It's something I wish I put more effort into. I have a Professional Writing degree, but when it comes to my blog I just open a Word document and just type away. I rarely ever review or edit the posts. I've been a lazy blogger lately.

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  8. This is why I have always adored you. You stick to your true self with blogging and that is so inspirational. I love your honest heart that is full of Christ. You are the best sweet friend!!

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  9. I could read the words you write for pages and pages, screens and screens, days and months and years. forever.

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  10. I just love your writing so much, as does so many other women out there, obviously! You're so talented, and I'm so blessed to be graced with your online presence. I'm so glad you're a writer!! :) And blogger. Keep up the great work, girl!



    Brianna
    xobriannaleigh.com

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  11. I only discovered your blog fairly recently, but I swear: the more I dive into your words, the deeper I both resonate with and have a girl crush on you, hahaha! Your authenticity SHINES and it's so infectious.

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  12. This is really cool. Seriously.
    It makes me want to sit down and think through my own process, which I'd call "jumbled".
    I love the confidence you bring to your writing - you are clearly well rooted.

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  13. Yes. This is just SO GOOD. You exactly described how writing works for me: latch onto an idea/experience, let the thoughts marinate, type a tangle of words . . . even your writing about your writing is beautiful! I love this idea, and I'm more than happy to contemplate my own writing process. :)

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  14. I love this!! Thanks so much for sharing your writing thoughts with us! It gives me a lot to think about as I blog. Writing, for me too, is an emotional exodus. Love that.


    Hannah
    Just Bee | justbeeblog.com

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  15. What a beautiful, organic experience to write like this. It is about moments for me too, picking up on patterns, sharing experiences, learning and teaching at the same time. I'll have to save the rest for my post at some point but I second what @Erika said, this is rich.

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  16. Damn girl. People like you are the reason I love this place. I so completely and utterly appreciate your authenticity, your honesty and the fact that you choose to share your quest for beauty in the mundane with those of us lucky enough to have stumbled upon it. Because I can't think of a more appropriate or eloquent way to say it- Shit lady, you can write.

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  17. whoa i have never thought about HOW i end up getting to that publish button. sometimes it's so simple and sometimes it really is a whole process. i did a small post many moons back about "why i blog" but not this deep into how and why. this is a great post idea and i absolutely will be sitting down with myself on this one! thank you! <3

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  18. Wow. This is the best one I've read. You truly changed my point of view on blogging and how I want to write - from the heart and with deeper meaning. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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